Lift a Line

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SWBAT write a creative narrative based on one line from their independent reading book.

Big Idea

Students choose one line from their text. It can be funny, sad, serious, or just have powerful word choice. Students write creatively, adding on to that line in a narrative format.

Independent Reading, Pass Back Log, Check in on Reading Progress

25 minutes

This is a start of the week lesson, so kids begin with silent reading. I walk around and pass back logs, check for book status, and pass out raffle tickets. As I walk by, I have a brief conference about page totals and responsibilities.

I also confer with kids, paying special attention to those who have finished their book. They may need book recommendations. I refer to my memoir list when speaking with them about a new book to choose.

The upcoming memoir unit is also on our minds, and I introduced during yesterday's lesson, so I ask students what they are planning to read for this unit.

Memoir Letter & List

Active Read Aloud

15 minutes

Before I begin read aloud to students, I inform them that this will be the last day we'll be reading Crash, our launch text. By this time kids are very engaged in this book and are disappointed to stop reading. I offer that they are more than welcome to continue reading it on their own, but we're going to be transitioning to memoir.

Then, I explain the purpose of our read aloud. As I'm reading, I'll be listening to find a line from the text that intrigues me. Not necessarily because it is an interesting part of the story, but because of the language used in the line. I want a well crafted sentence to start my "Lift a Line" assignment, or something sort of silly, that stands out.

Model Lift a Line

15 minutes

After I finish reading my aloud, I locate a funny or creative line and write it at the top of my paper. Then I explain I'll be doing a creative writing assignment totally unrelated to my book. I will find my line and then I'll just write. I should use my line for inspiration, but that is all. I don't need it to be in any way related to the text. I model this using the line:

 "I heard his voice saying, 'What's up chief?' before I knew he was in the room" (Spinelli 55).

From here I start to write a totally unrelated narrative. This is just a fun assignment that just gets the kids writing and building their writing stamina.

Independent Practice: Lift a Line

30 minutes

Now I encourage the students to return to their independent reading book. I ask them to find a line they want to use to do their own lift a line entry. 

As they are choosing, many will ask questions like, "is this right?" Or some will say, "I can't find any lines." Sometimes I have to try not to laugh at comments like this. I try to explain that they can really use any line, their is no wrong answer. Sometimes I end up choosing a sentence for kids to use, but I try not to do this. I want to urge them to make their own choices.

Kids really get into this assignment. Many have been so engaged in their independent reading over the span of the launch. This is their time to experiment with narrative form. I'm usually very impressed with the work they produce during this time, especially at the start of the year. But their new reading routine has immersed them in complex and creative texts.

Lift a Line Entry: Student Sample

Here, I talk through what makes this assignment so powerful, using a student's sample of 'Lift a Line.'


20 minutes

The kids now get an opportunity to share their work. First, I ask if anyone would feel comfortable sharing their writing in front of the entire class. It is usually class dependent. Some groups are very comfortable sharing in front of the entire class. Other groups, especially at the start of the year, are more hesitant. When kids are sharing their writing, I think it is vital that they provide a visual representation of their writing. The document camera is key for this. It helps the other kids follow along. Also, the teacher can point out successful sections, or with the right student the teacher can point out what the student could spend time correcting. These compliments and corrections help the entire class.

Lift a Line Entry: Student Sample