My First Day of School

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SWBAT write a narrative using temporal words.

Big Idea

Students will engage in writing using using temporal words and a topic that is sure to be relevant to all students.


10 minutes

Common Core Connection and Hook

This lesson begins with me showing the students the image of the little boy on his first day of school.  Okay, I might really be drawn to this image because this boy happens to look just like my son, and he starts kindergarten next year ... I also know all of my students will be able to relate the experience of the first day of school.  It is such a huge event in a child's life and I thought it would make a nice opportunity to reflect on a real world experience and write a narrative.

Like most of my lessons, this lesson has students working in small groups. My grouping is based on  their oral reading fluency scores on DIBELS.  These heterogeneous groups allow learners to engage in higher order thinking activities as they explain things to their peers and prove their reasoning.  I give each member a name they are either the  peanut butter partner or the jelly partner. By labeling students I can organize their conversations and group roles. So, if I notice one person is not participating in a group I can say this time I want the peanut butter partner to tell the jelly partner____.  It's just a fun way to assign jobs in discussion and collaboration.  I find that the more I can organize activities the better they go.


In this section I try to activate my students thinking with an activity that get them reflecting on their first day of school.  So, I tell them the story (First Day of School Board) of my first day of school. I wish I had the picture, because I think my mother was trying to make me look like Michael Jackson ...  Anyway, it is a day I will never forget. After my story, the students share their story with their peanut butter jelly partner.  This is how I assess their prior knowledge and experience. But, I also think that having the students verbalize this experience will allow them to write it easier during the partner work section.  Usually is my students get stuck on writing I ask them to tell me what they want to say and the writing just flows.

In my experience I have found that students need to know what is going on in the lesson, because it lets them know what to expect.  So, I explain that we will be writing a narrative about our first day of school.  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 my first day of school 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.

Guided Practice

20 minutes

Next the students transition to the center tables and chant the lesson goal as they move. This keeps the lesson focus up front, and manages behavior as they move.   Once the class is seated at their desks, which are in small groups, I begin explaining that the topic sentence should let our reader know what they are going to read about.  So, students discuss the topic sentence for the first day of school paragraph.  After about a minute I allow several students to share their ideas.  Then I ask other students to agree or disagree.  After this discussion, the class decides on a topic sentence.  It should be something like this, my first day of school was interesting.  It helps me to have an idea in my head, because my first graders can give such surprising comments it gets me off track.  But, I write whatever they decide for their topic sentence.

Then, the students discuss which word the second sentence should begin with, and what it should say.  I am listening, but hoping the class comes up with something like, first, I walked down a long hall to my classroom.  Although, this is their creation, I will write the statement that they agree upon.  Students share their ideas, and we will agree or disagree as a class.  After the discussion, I write the sentence on the board in paragraph form.  This is new to some students, so I am careful to explain that one sentence comes after another, not on the next line. It is also important to point our finger spacing, capitalization, and punctuation when writing in front of the class.  I just explain as I write.

Now, students discuss the third sentence and what word or words they should begin it with.  We have already had two in depth discussions so I listen this time.  Then I restate what I heard several groups say.  I ask for a thumbs up or down to show which statement we should use next.  Hopefully, it will be something like, next, I met my teacher.

Now it is time to add the third comment which will begin with the words, last I met my classmates, and rode the bus home.  The students first discuss the statement that will describe the last thing that will happen at school.  After they finish discussing I share what I hear several students say and ask the class to discuss which statement we should write.  Then I add their idea.

The last thing we will write is the closure. I explain what a closure is and that it should wrap up the story or summarize the previous sentences in the paragraph.  So, students discuss the closing sentence and then one or two students share their ideas.  I ask other students to agree or disagree.  Then as a class we agree upon the best closing sentence.  I am thinking that it might be that the first day of school was quite exciting. 

Partner Work

20 minutes

After the guided practice, the students transition to the center tables where I have already set up their materials for writing about their own first day of school.  I go over the rubric again and use the work we did in the guided practice as an example.  Then I make sure each child has a rubric to reference so they can make sure they do all the parts.  The students are given about ten minutes to write their about their first day of school. Students then evaluate each others work and give their peers feedback (Partner Evaluation).  The students are then given and additional five minutes to make the necessary revisions to their work. I have a video (Partner Work) of the students working together in the resource section.

Student Reflection

5 minutes

This is when I like to work on speaking and listening by allowing my students to share their work.  To help my student be successful I remind them to talk loud when speaking, listen, look at the speaker, think, be still, and hold their paper still.

After each presentation I try to get the students to give their peers feedback.  I want students to  comment on something specific, to improve their classmates work.  Then I ask the students to explain how they know.  Analyzing and justifying are higher order thinking skills that I am trying to get the students to use at this point.


5 minutes

 Now the lesson has come to a close.  The students tell their partner one thing they learned today. I share what I heard them tell their peers.  Then I share our plan for future lessons. 

Last, I say the lesson goal because it helps students comprehend.  I can write a narrative piece using the words first, next, and last.