Special Connections

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT write for an extended period in a personal narrative format.

Big Idea

Who do you connect with? Students reflect upon the special relationships in their lives and write extensively about a memory they shared with one of these connections. This lesson serves as a bridge into the memoir unit.

Recap: Assessing understandings from the previous day.

20 minutes

At the start of the block, I ask students to reflect independently on what we have covered the day before. On the previous day of instruction, there is rich discussion around gender and gender roles. See this lesson for more information: Annotating Boys & Girls.

Today, the goal is to see what they have retained and can articulate on an individual basis. I tell them this is not really a test, but I am looking to see what they understand, so there should be no talking or conversing. What do they recall from our discussion that took place the day prior? This sheet serves as an Entrance Ticket that I will look over to assess student understandings of the delicate topic of gender roles and identity. The first question asks for students to closely read and understand what they have read. The next question asks them to think more generally about gender roles and identity.

If students finish early, they may read their independent texts (as always). However, I urge them to take their time and proofread their answers.

Read Aloud: "Crash"

15 minutes

After students have turned in their entrance tickets, we transition to today's read aloud.

During today's read aloud from Crash, we are introduced to Scooter, Crash's grandpa. We see a huge change in Crash when he is around Scooter, and a large change in the entire family dynamic. I invite students to think about this. Where do we see hints of this positive change? As I'm reading, they listen and some jot down notes of where we see hints of this change. 

Explaing the think aloud, using close reading.

Writing Topic: Special Connections.

25 minutes

I invite students to think and about their own lives. Just as Crash has his grandpa Scooter, who do you have in your life? What person in your life ignites that special spark within you? I say, you may have someone pop into your life right away. Or maybe you're unsure of who to pick. You can always choose a parent if you're stumped. Sometimes kids over-complicate this assignment. I say it can be a friend of the family or an old teacher. It doesn't have to be family. Someone who made you feel really good, or safe, or well taken care of; even if it was for only a short period of time.

Not all kids have the same resources and familial love, but most children can pinpoint that one aunt or uncle that was always particularly nice to them.

Then I model the assignment using my Aunt Maddie. I just start writing about her under the document camera. I don't worry about form or style; I just write what comes into my mind.

Teacher Model: Special Connection

This is also a great seed idea to utilize once we move into memoir or narrative writing. I like to get these little seed ideas brewing in their notebooks, so when we sit down to write formal memoirs, students can choose one from their notebooks they've already begun.

I pause for student responses: "Who are you thinking about writing about?" Many are willing to share their special connection.

I urge the kids to open up to their independent work tab in their composition notebooks and to begin writing.

Students of course tend to finish writing at different times; this is okay. When they are completely finished writing, I have them silently read at their seat.

Partner Share

15 minutes

For the final fifteen minutes, I allow students to choose a partner with whom they'd like to share their work.

Student Sample: Special Connection Seed Idea

Since this writing topic is kind of personal, I let kids pick partners. I have had kids ask if they really have to share. Usually I say no, but I ask them to share with me. They usually do.

During partner shares, I model how this should be completed. A big piece of your writing, I always say, is your voice. That is why it is so important for you to read your work aloud to your partner. I ask students to sit at eye level with one another, and to have their work accessible, not only to themselves, but also to their partner. Then the student should be able to read their entire piece without being interrupted. We are not yet giving feedback, I tell the kids, unless it is positive. I want to build a safe environment for the kids to share their writing. You have to build this community early in the year.