Common Core Connection
In this lesson, students learn how to transition smoothly in their stories to guide a reader using words like first, next, and last. This is a skill that will allow students to become better writers and create better transitions in their writing as it grows in complexity. In the first grade I expect students to create a well developed paragraph by the end of the year using temporal words. But, in second grade the skill deepens in complexity and they will need to transition a reader from one paragraph to another. Later this skill will expand in the a well developed essay or story of at least five paragraphs, beginning with an introductory paragraph and ending with a closing paragraph.
This lesson begins with me showing the students the man giving his autograph in my lesson image (many first graders know that word, and I always try to build off their prior knowledge). Just in case some have not heard the term, though, I do explain that an autograph is a someone's signature, and then I connect it to our topic today by explaining that an autobiography is a story written by a person about themselves. As the lesson progresses, I show a model, do a guided practice, and last allow students to write their own. In the end of the lesson the students will reflect, evaluate, and present their work.
Most of the lesson is done in small groups that remain consistent even though there are transitions during the lesson. Generally I move the class every twenty minutes because I think first graders need a break after that long. The groups are mixed ability based on their oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS. These heterogeneous groups allow my students to engage in higher order thinking activities as they explain things to their peers and justify their reasoning. Each group has a peanut butter partner and a jelly partner. Now, if there is somebody absent I might have two of one in a group. Labeling the partners allows me to organize their conversations and group roles. I might tell the better writer to write, but I would say lets have the peanut butter partner write today.
This is where I try to activate my students' thinking with some kind of question or story. Today I am going to read them my Autobiography because I know the class will need a lot of modeling in this lesson. You can find my story in the resources section! Next, I ask the students to tell their autobiography to their peanut butter jelly partner. I am just assessing what they know about autobiographies at this point, and this allows me to provide more or less support during the lesson. Depending on what they say, I might have to do more explaining.
Then I point out how I structured my story using an introductory sentence, a closing sentence, correctly sequenced events, and temporal words. So, I show my students these on my autobiography which I project on the Promethean board.
Then I go over the Rubric and explain that we will put a 1 in the blank if you do each part. For the guided practice we will use the rubric to check our work when we are finished. So, now I ask the students to restate. the lesson objective, I can write a story about myself using the words first, next, and last The students say this three times. They echo it, tell a friend, and then say it with me. It seems to help the students remember the goal.
Now, it is time to create an autobiography for somebody in our class. So, I choose a student that I know has difficulty writing and speaking. We will write her autobiography and then she can trace it and draw her picture beside it. Any chance I get to celebrate or really involve students in my class with special needs I try to do so.
Then students discuss with their peanut butter jelly partner what the topic sentence should be. After I hear a few comments. I ask some different students to share their ideas. Typically I ask for volunteers at this point, because I do not want to embarrass anyone. As I try to encourage conversation, I ask several students to agree or disagree and tell us why their topic sentence is good. What should a topic sentence do? It should introduce the story and tell us what it will be about. After the students decide on a good topic sentence I write it on the board. Most first graders write too slow to allow them to write now. We are just focusing on getting good ideas now.
Next, students discuss what happened to this student first. To prompt their discussion I ask the student if she went to pre-school. Then she can say yes. I inform them that she went to Headstart and ask the class to discuss what we should write, and what words should we use. After a volunteers shares their ideas, I ask them to justify it and explain themselves. Why should we use the word first?
Later, I inform the class that her first kindergarten teacher was Mrs. G. So, they need to discuss what they should write next. After their discussion I try to get the class to have a discussion about why the word next should introduce this sentence. The students agree or disagree about what to write. Once they come to a conclusion, I write what they say.
Next, we discuss what happened next. I have to share this child's story because the class may not remember. She went to kindergarten another year and had Mrs. H. The students discuss what to write, and once they agree about what to write I add it to the board.
Last, the class has to discuss what things make up a closing sentence. This is when I have to show some examples from previous work. It just make things more relevant. Some examples are: "after all, it was a great day;" "so far school has been a great experience;" "I really do love my family." Then the students discuss with their peanut butter jelly partner what they should write for a closing sentence. After sharing, discussion, agree or disagreeing, explaining, and the class agreeing on the decision, I write the closing sentence. Then I reread the story and go over the topic sentence, the temporal words, and the closing. Most of the time I feel like I can never be too repetitive in the first grade. After all, this is all new to these little ones.
Next, we move in to the time where each child will move to the center tables for a transition. But, they will write individually for ten minutes. Then, they read their work to their partner, and use the rubric to critic their partners work. This is very informal and everyone understand this is a work in progress. Because everyone understands this at this point, we avoid hurt feelings.
After the evaluation (Evaluation Writing), the students spend about 7 or 8 minutes finishing their work. Now, they are working extra hard because they know they will get to present their work in the student reflection. Another thing that motivates the students is making the lesson relevant. This is about them so it is relevant. What I find is that the students have to buy in to the idea or they just don't do it.
Check out the student work (Proficient Writing) in the resource section.
We now come to the time when we work on speaking and listening. Both can be a great challenge to first graders so it is essential to remind them to talk loud when speaking, listen, look at the speaker, think, be still, and hold your paper still
When each student finishes presenting, other students give academic feedback. This is another challenging area so I am very careful to define academic feedback. What I mean is comment on something specific, that will help them improve their work. If I tell a student good job it doesn't help them make their work better. I typically say I agree with____ because______. I think it might be better if _________, because_________. But I really like the way you _________.
This is the end of the lesson and I have already done some formative assessment while the class was working, evaluating each other, and presenting their work. Now, I need to know what kinds of things will interest my students for future narrative writing, and what they learned from this lesson. Hopefully, somebody learned about using temporal words, writing with an introduction and a closing. If not I certainly tell them that I was hoping they learned to use temporal words, an introductory sentence, a closing sentence, or what an autobiography does. Remember these are little people and what they learned doesn't always make sense, so we have to teach them in positive ways what we were looking for.
Last, we restate the lesson goal because it helps students comprehend. I can write a narrative piece using the words first, next, and last.