Common Core Connection:
According to Common Core Standards in order for students to build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must produce numerous writing pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year. Which is why I have my students produce a quick journal write everyday and I dedicate a block of time to formally teach how to organize and develop ideas, and how to write them. I have always felt that the writing block is one of the most important times we have during the day. I also believe reading is an excellent tool for teaching writing because reading is where the words are.
This two day writing lesson continues from the previous lesson, where students are working on W.1.3: write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
In today's lesson I read a literary text to review using the word 'I', and to explain introducing the character. To help my students organize their ideas from the previous lesson into categories, I also modeled how to use the cylinder graphic organizer. The cylinder graphic organizer is sectioned out so that students can visually see the title, central idea, and develop characters, ideas, and details.
As my students settled on the rug I began today’s lesson by reminding my little ones they were writing a fictional personal narrative about themselves as a snail. I then explained today I was going to read another fictional narrative about a turtle, and that as I read I wanted them to listen for the word "I", as well as the adventures this turtle had had the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
From that point I introduced and began reading Emma’s Turtle, by Eve Bunting. As I read I stopped on selected pages to point out different parts of the story that included introducing the character, where the turtle took action, events from his action, and the ending. For example: after reading the first page I stopped and asked, “Who are we reading about and where does he live?” My students immediately chorused back, “Emma’s turtle, he lives in the backyard.” I continued by stating, “In writing, that is called introducing the character.”
At the end of the story I had my students retell what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story, by calling on student volunteers with their hands up. As these students shared the sequenced events in the story, the rest of my students showed me they agreed by showing a thumb up (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down).
When my students finished retelling the story Emma’s Turtle, I said, “Think about the story you are going to write, how are you going to introduce yourself as a snail?” I gave them a moment to think about this question. As hands went up, a student volunteered, “Hi, my name is Rico the Snail.” I asked him why he would start with that sentence, and he told me, “Because that’s my name and I am pretending I am a snail.” Excellent! Some other ideas included: ‘One day me and my friend’, and ‘I am a snail named…’ "All good ideas for introducing your character," I said.
From there I pointed to the Large Writing Web Graphic Organizer on the wall we started the day before. I pointed to the middle circle and reminded them from yesterday’s example, Ms. Collins the Snail, stating: "Everyone knows the practice story, we are working on here, is about a snail named Ms. Collins, just like the first page in Emma’s Turtle." As a class we continued to read the snail facts and ideas in each web circle from yesterday’s work.
The next part of writing, I told my little ones, is to take the ideas from the web and put all the ideas, or parts, that are similar together. "This will help us when we start the actual writing," I told my skeptical, but eager to begin, writers. I then pointed to the next Large Cylinder Graphic Organizer on the wall and explained "This is the one we will use to develop our character, his or her friends, the facts, and some adventures. I call it the ‘cylinder’ because it has three cylinder shapes. During the next couple of days during the writing block we will use both the web and ‘cylinder’".
Pointing to and starting with the middle circle of the web, I modeled how to transpose it to the top oval of the ‘cylinder’ titled Central Idea. As I wrote Ms. Collins the Snail on the top oval of the ‘cylinder’ I pointed out that this could be the title of my narrative. I then pointed to the writing space under the first oval and told my students this space is where we put the first sentence that introduces the character. I asked my students, “What would be a good beginning sentence for this story?” One student suggested, “How about, ‘Hi, I am a snail named Ms. Collins.’ Why would that be a good starting sentence I asked? His reply, “because it tells me the story is about you the snail." The class agreed as I wrote it in the space.
I continued by pointing to the three cylinders and explained we would use these cylinders to develop our story. However, today we only focused on the first cylinder, where I wrote: Snail Facts on the top.
Using the magic cup (Demonstration: Magic Cup) to call on students to read the facts from the web I modeled how to write them on the cylinder, explaining these are ideas, we are not ready to put them in sentences. As we finished I pointed to the facts in the fact section of the cylinder, explaining now all the facts were in one place and not scattered all over the web.
During this time if a student read something from the web organizer that was not a fact, I would verify that what he/she read was on the web, 'but is it a fact?' I would ask.
I then re-stated that today they would only work on writing their snail facts from the web organizer to the cylinder organizer.
I had them take a stretch and slide to their desks like snails (Demonstration: Adding Movement). As they took out their web graphic organizers from the day before, I passed out their Cylinder Graphic Organizer and displayed a copy on the Promethean board. I instructed them to start with their middle web circle and copy what they wrote yesterday on the top oval of the ‘cylinder’. I then wrote Snail Facts on the first cylinder and had my students do the same. From there I told them to find their facts on their web and write them in that first cylinder. As they worked I circled around the class and I checked each student’s graphic organizer and pulled a small group of my less independent/writing confident students to work with me.
The two student samples Student 1 Cylinder Graphic Organizer and Student 2 Cylinder Graphic Organizer were part of the small group I pulled on this first day. Both of these students are in my second highest reading group, they are fluent readers and have good comprehension skills, however, they both need extra support in writing. To support Student 1 I give him a lot of verbal modeling that includes vocabulary development and grammar usage. Student 2 needs sentence starters and written cues.