Familiar Scenes: Writing What You Know

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SWBAT: center a short story around a familiar school setting.

Big Idea

In order to strengthen their understanding of setting, students will put a familiar setting at the forefront of their story starters.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

At this point in the unit, we've been writing a plethora of beginnings of short stories. I haven't really given the students a lot of time on any day to write a full, complete story. By asking them in the Guiding Question how a writer crafts a story, I want to hear about their process. I want to hear how they are going to go about creating an entire story.

Mini Lesson

15 minutes

One thing that my students do before attempting an assessment is to "unpack" it. By this, I mean they read what skills and concepts they will need to be successful in the assessment, and they reflect on their ability to meet them. Here is the entire Embedded Assessment.

I use the "stoplight" method to unpacking. Students mark in red the skills or concepts they need a lot of guidance with. They mark in yellow skills or concepts they've maybe heard about, but aren't very comfortable writing, then in green they get to show off what they know!

This video from the amazing people at Flocabulary helped my students see the big picture of what was expected from them for their Short Story. After my students unpack the Embedded Assessment, I show this video to make the concepts stick (trust me, you'll be singing it all day!)

Work Time

25 minutes

This Story Starter is another where I address setting. Students seem to forget to add setting to their story starters and rely instead on pure action and dialogue. By having them begin with the setting, it forces them to create a realistic setting, then create the story around that setting.

I thought I'd shake the Story Starter up a bit by creating a game. After each student wrote a story around a setting in our school, they had to swap with a partner at their table and try to guess. This student example of Guess Where? is super-cute. She's covered the answer with a sticky note, and this student example shows the answer.

Wrap Up

5 minutes

For their Wrap Up, students quickly used their reflection stems to generate a reflection. Here's the reflection from the same student whose Story Starter I shared from above.