Writer's Workshop: Writing and Revising Narratives

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SWBAT finish writing their narratives by engaging in sustained writing and critique of model essays.

Big Idea

As we revise narratives, we'll be looking for creativity and precision--and individuality!

Lesson Introduction

Complex task.  We have been focusing on high levels of writing: precise description (W.9-10.3b), inventive characterization (W.9-10.3b), a refined use of figurative language with a cherished object (W.9-10.3d), dialogue (W.9-10.3b) that is both properly punctuated (L.9-10.2) and a cohesive plot device (W.910.3c).  

Why a writer's workshop?  Now we turn to actually getting the writing done!  Some students are advanced and highly motivated by their living, breathing character, and they have already finished a multi-page draft, while others are just getting started with a shorter draft in progress.  I plan to differentiate and use this day primarily as a writer's workshop during which I can carry on as many individual conferences as possible to help students engage in the writer's process at whatever entry point is relevant (W.9-10.5).  Link to video explanation. 
Model essay.  An excerpt of a story featuring fingerprints!  Along the way, if I need to serve up another student model, I will do so, perhaps using this inventive, diary-format crime story (link).  The point is to help students to see that there can be a many creative ways of addressing the assignment. 

Rubric from Turnitin.com

15 minutes

The students will be using turnitin.com for this essay submission, so I will post the rubric for CCSS9-10--Narrative that they have developed (link).  We will do this aloud and together so that I can gauge the students' uptake on the rubric; if we don't have a clear sense of shared meaning, then the assessment of their writing may be a mystery to the students, and that can create a weak classroom culture.  In contrast, when students clearly understand the expectations, they are more likely to achieve them and to be motivated to even exceed them, if possible! 

I will focus on two criteria:

1.) What do you think will count for strong development in this essay?  Based on our work in the lessons to date?  [I expect to hear about description, dialogue, complex characters.]

2.) How will you organize your story and move it forward, and what counts for strong organization? [I expect to hear about plot W, dialogue (W.9-10.3.b), and maybe even scene progression.]


Process.  My goal in this lesson and in these couple of days of writer's workshop are to engaged the students in the various points of entry into the writing process (W.9-10.5) and to help them to expand their notions of what can be accomplished through that kind of work. 


Writer's Workshop and Base Groups

20 minutes

I have students situated roughly in base groups and will conduct a writer's workshop, much as I have done all year (e.g. link to my second unit on Absolutely True Diary).  The goal of a writer's workshop is to provide time for students to write, get feedback (e.g. on grammar, L9-10.2), conference with peers, re-read the assignment, shore up some key elements, etc.  I move from student to student and differentiate my responses based on the questions at hand as it relates to the relevant stage of the writing process (W.9-10.5).  I also allow students to quietly ask their base groups writer's questions and to review the assignment (W.9-10.3) and drafts together.  The structure of a workshop feels much different from a typical classroom interaction, but it's a nice respite from the norm.  I know that the students benefit a great deal from it.

We are in a 1:1 laptop environment, so this work goes on in our normal classroom, and we can move in and out of the workshop fairly simply, with a short breakout to read a sample essay or to review the rubric (W.9-10.6). 

Wrap Up

1 minutes

At the end of class, I remind students to continue working on their narrative drafts (W.9-10.5) and to focus on the key elements of the rubric that we had just discussed.  This may be rather obvious, but a quick reminder helps students to remember to do the work at home.