In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy, and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.
Connect: Yesterday we generated ideas about the issues people around us have to generate our own ideas to make our memoirs meaningful, today we are going to use one last generating strategy to think of more ideas before we decide on one to use for our memoirs. We are also going to put together the two descriptive details we have been working on; inner thinking and dialogue and then add another, action.
Teach: “If you noticed from the stories we have read over the past couple of days, the authors talked about many people, places and objects that are meaningful in their lives. In “Us and Them” David Sedaris talks about his neighborhood and school. Geoffrey Canada in “Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun” talks about his mother, father, brothers and neighborhood kids. In “Black Boy” Richard Wright talks the curtains in his house. I am going to practice the skill of using ideas from my own life. I am going to use the strategy of thinking about people, places and objects. The process I will use is as follows
1) Organize my thoughts into people, places and objects on my paper
2) Ask myself: Do I have moments in this place or with the people and/or objects that are meaningful to me?
3) Jot down my ideas and concentrate on adding dialogue, inner thinking and action.”
I will jot down at least one idea from each category with a reflection (use ideas from your childhood; mother, father, siblings, home, school, stuffed animal, baby blanket, etc).
Active Engagement: “Now you are going to jot down this chart (People, places, objects/moment/reflection) in your notebook and jot down at least 3 ideas you have.” I will check for understanding by asking every level of learner (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard). Ensure that students are jotting down ideas that will help them write a meaningful piece.
Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember, successful writers practice the skill of using ideas from their own lives. They practice the strategy of organizing their thoughts into people, places and objects. They then think of experiences they have had within these three categories and what they learned from the experience. Finally they write out their experiences using dialogue,inner thinking and action.”
Independent Practice: Students will brainstorm for at least five more minutes until they land on a moment in which they have the “squeezy feeling in their heart,” one in which they really want to tell. I will then direct them to write out the moment and include the reflection (I will show them an example of in my writing where I have done this. I will say to them, "just like a photographer zooms in on an important aspect of a person, place or object, you will do the same in your writing with your moment. Write out your moment using action, dialogue and inner thinking."
They should write for at least 25 minutes if not more. I will direct them to have their mentor texts (used in prior units) out in from of them for an example. They can write multiple moments within this time if they get stuck on one. As they are working independently and quietly, (I like to play classical or smooth jazz for“writing”music) I will confer with them about their writing using this chart. If they are missing all three descriptive details, I will only concentrate on one during their conference.
Partner Work: Students will be directed to turn and share one of the moments they have crafted. I will say, “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A you will share a moment you wrote down or part of a moment. Partner B, I want you to say at random points while your partner is sharing, “dialogue,” “inner thinking,” or “action.” (model this with a student). This will help them think about adding these three descriptive details in their stories. Then you will switch.” Here is an example of this strategy. Give your partner feedback as to where they could add more dialogue, inner thinking or action. I should hear, "Maybe you could add...or I liked how you used...I will add something similar to my writing."
I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question.
Closing: What small moment from your own life did you write about today? Jot down your best examples that show where you used action, dialogue and inner thinking.