It seems like students are used to receiving instruction or directions and doing them for that day only. For example, "Today we are writing a story...tomorrow, we'll write a letter...etc." Sometimes certain instruction or directions become routine. But without being very intentional with teaching, they don’t learn that what they do today is now forever in their toolbox of knowledge to use later.
This lesson is reminding them that writers reuse strategies that they have learned and used before in new pieces of writing.
To begin, I ask students to share some of the things they learned about how to write a personal narrative. They tell me things like, “Write a seed story”, “Have a strong lead”, and “Use details”. I acknowledge what they said and remind them of the posters that we’ve created throughout the previous unit that also list some of those skills.
Writers don’t just learn something or work on something once, they develop a skill by reusing it whenever they write.
I then hand out a checklist that has some of the qualities of good personal narratives listed. I ask them to check off the ones that they have already done in this new draft.
After they indicate which ones they still need to work on, I ask them to put their goal on a sticky note and put it on their draft to remind them to continue to improve their draft. Some students write exactly what they would revise, “Tell where I met my friend” but I encourage them to include a goal of improving a skill that will work on any story they chose to write about. So for that example, I might ask them to write, “Make the setting clear”.
As I’m walking around the room, supporting students in writing a good goal, other students might be ready to work on revising with their goal in mind.
In the share, I ask students to tell what area they will be working on. If I have enough time, I will ask every student to quickly go around the room and share so that every student is held accountable to the work I expect them to be able to do in writing. If a student isn’t ready, I tell them that I will come back to them. If I run out of time for them to share, I at least check-in with each of them on a one-on-one basis.