Once students have completed their plot map and talked through it with a partner, I am ready for them to write! My students like to ask all kinds of questions like: How long does it have to be? How many paragraphs? Is this good enough?
I am going to stick to the same answer this time. Did you tell your story? Did you use precise language and description? Then you are finished!
Most students will write this story over a period of several days, and I will provide a few opportunities in the form of 30 minute chunks for them to write in class. I don't love assigning writing as homework because I find that too many parents become overly involved in it.
I haven't done this writing assignment in quite awhile, but I do remember that last time I did it, some students wrote pages and pages! Others of course, squeaked out a paragraph. I am going to try to be OK with that and focus on improving the product that they present. A big part of this assignment is the revision piece and teaching my students ways to rework their writing when they don't have my assistance.
I have set up 5 different editing stations around my room. Each is numbered with a folded piece of card stock. I will allow students to choose a partner to move through the stations with and help out along the way. I figure that there is a better chance of them wanting to help a friend, and despite some side conversations, the results will probably be better in the end. Once students have chosen a partner, I assign them to a station around the room.
They will need to take with them: their rough draft, their editing and revising station paper, a pencil, highlighter, and editing pen. If you prefer, you can supply the editing pens and highlighters at the appropriate stations. I also have a table for those who did not finish their rough drafts because, let's face it, there is always at least one!
I will set up a timer on my Smart Board for around 8 minutes. Students will complete the specific task listed on their revision hand out for that particular station.
Here are the stations I am using for this assignment:
1: Conventions and Spelling
2: Precise Language
5: Elements of the Plot
Directions on their handout clearly state whether they are reading their own papers or looking at a partner's. In addition, the task is listed along with suggested resources. I provide several word list and other resources for some of the stations.
Students rotate through the stations until they have been to all 5. At the end of every station, there is a place on the handout for students to sign off if the work has been completed. This helps me know if someone needs more time in a certain area.
Overall, I have had tremendous success with this form of revision. It is the best way I have found to get kids to actually change their writing. Something about the activity level and collaboration turns revision into fun!
Now, students have a week to type or hand write the story and submit a final copy. Because it's almost the end of the quarter, I cannot get into a computer lab! My students are on their own to make sure this gets accomplished. I am a little scared.
Assessing writing can be THE WORST!!! I tend to assess small pieces of a longer assignment or look for just one thing when assessing. This time, I am going to use our district's holistic writing rubric that we are supposed to use to assess formal writing. Since this story has gone through the revision process, I am going to give it a shot. I usually limit myself to reading between 5-10 pieces of writing a day. Any more than that and I can't keep my focus. In order to look at each paper with new eyes, I have to do a little at a time. It typically will take me a week to grade a set of 85 papers. Time to get started!
Here are some student examples and explanations.