Planning is the foundation of building anything. So it is with writing. I move students on to the next stage of the writing process, which is planning. Here, students review their writing ideas chart and decide on a topic. From there, they plan using a similar story elements graphic organizer they have used to write story elements. The purpose for this is to help them see the connection between reading and writing.
I wanted to remind students that narratives have the same four elements. I asked them what the four elements were and they readily told me. (characters, setting, problem, and solution) I noticed a few students looking at the story elements poster. It is important to keep resources posted for students to reference when they need it. I held up a few stories we’d read and asked them to tell me the four elements in each. We did this popcorn style because I wanted it to be a quick review.
I told students they were going to write a story using the four elements used by authors. I said the first thing authors do is plan and I was going to show them how I plan when I’m going to write a story. I referred to the chart where I’d brainstormed ideas in the previous lesson. I modeled whisper reading them over in my mind and made a great show of stopping at the one I’d elaborated on the day before. Me: Yes, I’m going to write about the nasty dog next door who poops in my yard! Oh, that dog! (I chose to write about a topic that would hold student’s attention while I modeled drafting in the next lesson. Oddly, students get pretty excited about seeing the word poop in print. Go figure.)
I displayed the story elements graphic organizer on the document camera. I started by giving the story a title, The Nasty Dog Next Door! I modeled writing the characters, setting, and problem on the GO. I thought aloud a way to solve the problem. Students offered up several ideas. We finally agreed on a solution, decided we needed more characters to help me, and added them to the chart. This process showed students that it is okay to discuss ideas with others and sometimes our initial ideas change. My story started with two characters, but I had to add three bad puppies to help the story make sense.
After I modeled filling in the story graphic organizer, students were given their own organizer to complete. They pulled out their writing ideas chart to help them plan. They chose their own partners and worked in groups of two. This allowed them to discuss their ideas if needed. I circulated around the room to assist students who needed help. It is important to monitor students as they work to ensure they have a story plan that is cohesive and makes sense. If not, they will struggle when it is time to write the story. Alex had ninjas fighting bad guys who were stealing a huge diamond, but the setting was in the grocery store. I asked why a diamond would be in a grocery store. He changed it to a mizeum (museum). My special needs student couldn't think of anything, even with heavy prompting. I didn't want to frustrate him further, so I decided to allow him to skip to the writing phase. Maybe his ideas needed flow in the moment. Another student started over several times. We pulled out her ideas chart and discussed what she felt would make a great story. She was at the solution phase when I left her. Students had candid conversations about each other’s ideas. Mimi told Brad that his story idea wasn't very interesting. He spiced it up with ninjas. I sensed a trend forming.
At the end of the lesson, every student (with one exception) had a viable story plan. They were excited and ready to begin writing their stories the following day.
They really put a lot of thought into their planning. All elements were included and made sense in the final product. Teacher modeling really helps students see what goes into the planning process and what the expectations are for a narrative. I assessed their work via a story planning rubric that I was able to complete on the spot. Students were assessed on each element; was the element included, did it make sense, was teacher assistance needed, and was all work completed independently. The expectation (according to CCSS) is that students are able to complete these tasks with support from peers and adults. Including on the rubric whether or not students required support allows me to access where they are in developing independence.
Students completed a four-fold sheet where they summarized what they learned today. The top left corner is where they write about what they learned. The top right area is where students explain why what they learned is important. The bottom left area is to draw a picture or that shows understanding of what they learned. This engages another mortality. Lastly, the bottom right area allows students to write any questions they have about the topic.