This year, our first big writing unit was on personal narratives. I always look forward to this unit and for so many reasons. First, it seems like kids have an easier time writing about themselves or their lives than just about any other topic. You can typically get any student to write about himself or an experience he’s had - even those who claim to hate writing. Second, personal narratives are a great way for me to learn about my students. Narratives reveal everything from affinities, to life experiences, to information about the relationships they have with others. I think it’s a perfect way to start them off as writers!
There are a total of nine lessons in this unit and each has been written to last a day. However, when I completed this unit in my classroom, we spent a month working through the writing process. The point of each of these lessons is to identify big ideas or major steps in the process. But, you decide how the timing schedule will work for you and your group of students. You can easily extend one of these lessons to last several days.
Today we publish! We’ve spent weeks choosing a topic, writing drafts, and editing and today we finally get to begin the final copy of our work. There is very little instruction today; just a few reminders before students set off to work.
1. Remember to include corrected work that you completed during the editing process. Students worked hard to examine their work closely looking for ways to improve it. They need to be sure that they include those changes in their final copy.
2. Use your resources! While much of the editing has already been completed, it never fails that someone will find a misspelled word or have a question about turning a simple sentence into a compound sentence. While publishing is mainly about re-writing what already exists, I don’t want students to be in the habit of mindless copying while they’re working. I want them to pay attention to their working making sure that it is their best. So when issues or questions arise, don’t simply ignore them and keep going - ask a friend or me for help!
3. Use your rubric. During the editing process, I give students a copy of the rubric that I use to assess their work. Today during publishing, they should keep the rubric in mind and check once again that they’ve included all parts that are required and that their piece reflects what is expected in the third grade.
4. Remember to include an illustration that is colored. Oftentimes this step is omitted and students lose crucial points for something that could easily be fixed.
5. Be respectful of others’ work time. It’s easy to be distracted and want to talk to others especially when you’re drawing or coloring. But I want students to remember that not everyone can multi-task well! You might be able to copy your work word for word from one page to another all the while chatting it up with your neighbor. But your neighbor might be someone who struggles to transfer work from one page to another even when he is silent. So be respectful of others’ time and keep the off topic conversations to a minimum.
We don’t have a typical closure at the end of our time together like we would on other days. Students simply turn in their work if it is completed or put it back in their binders if it’s not. Those who did not finish their work today can complete it tomorrow.