During this week in our writing block we have been working to create a fictional narrative about ourselves as snails. (W.1.3: write narrative 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 this two day lesson I modeled how to begin forming my student’s thoughts from their cylinder graphic organizer onto their draft paper into sentences. This first day was dedicated to the beginning of the narrative and introducing the character with snail facts.
Today when we started our writing block I called my students to the rug area and told them how happy I was that they had done such a good job on their cylinder graphic organizers the day before. I then asked them what two fictional narrative books we read during our writing block. They all chorused back, Diary of a Worm and Emma’s Turtle. A few also said, Clementine, before addressing that error, I asked, “What was the one word that made Diary of a Worm and Emma’s Turtle a personal narrative”? My fastest little guy shouted out, “The word ‘I’”. Several students responded by showing me they agreed with a thumb up. (Demonstration: Thumb Up, Thumb Down) That’s right I said. Then I had them think about Clementine, and asked, “Did Clementine have the word ‘I’ in it? They responded no. I agreed with my students Clementine was a good book about an adventurous snail, however it was not a personal narrative because it did not have the word ‘I’.
Spring boarding from there I directed my students attention to the two large graphic organizers on the wall, the Large Web Graphic Organizer and Large Cylinder Graphic Organizer, that displayed the writing sample we had been creating as a class. Explaining that today we were going to begin our first draft using just the work from the top oval and the first cylinder that had the snail facts from their work from the day before. To get us started I instructed my little ones to point to the first cylinder and read together what we had so far created. When we finished reading I pointed out that the words in the first cylinder were not sentences and we had to add the little words to make a sentence. I also pointed to the writing space between the top oval and the three cylinders, explaining this was the space to start an opening sentence. Before moving on, I had my little ones stand up and take a stretch break. When they were seated again on the rug I said, “You are now a snail ready to write about yourself, your friends, and an adventure you had, if you are ready wiggle your eye stalks”.
At that point I directed their attention to the large graphic organizer on the wall that looks like a large sheet of writing paper I use for Modeled Writing. We need a title I said, after I wrote my name and date. At this stage in the writing process I feel it important for my students to come up with the ideas for the modeling, it gives them a sense of ownership, and an opportunity to see their ideas in printed form. The class agreed on Ms. Collins the Snail. “Where did you get that title from”, and “Why is it important”, I asked. “From the top oval” and “It lets us know you are a snail”, they giggled. After the title I asked my students what the first sentence should be, they all exclaimed, Hi, I am a snail named Ms. Collins. Where did you get that sentence from I asked. From the space on cylinder they answered.
I continued to model a first paragraph by using some of the snail facts from the first cylinder. I had my students develop the narrative by asking them questions such as, “What type of snail am I”, “How can I put that fact in this paragraph”. As my students volunteered answers, I modeled how to write their sentences on the practice paper. One thing I did not do was start each sentence with “I” instead I suggested other words to begin the sentences.
When we finished working on this first paragraph together I had my students read it. When they were finished reading, I repeated that they were to use on the first oval from the top to think of a title, the space under the cylinder to introduce their character, and the first cylinder get their ideas for writing some facts about their snail character.
As my students settled in their desks I displayed the sample of yesterday’s cylinder graphic organizer on the Promethean board and had my students take their cylinder graphic organizers out of their work folders. I then passed out the lined newsprint I use for writing drafts. Pointing out that they already had a central idea that could be a title and a beginning sentence I gave them a little minute to copy that information on their practice drafts. When they were finished I pointed to the cylinder entitled Snail Facts on the Promethean board, and reminded my students to introduce their character by telling me, the reader, one or two snail facts. As they began writing I circled the room to make sure most of my little ones were starting on their work, I then pulled a little group to help them get started. At the end of our writing block I called on three students to read to the class what they had written. This gives me an idea where my students are and how to modify the lesson, pacing, or groups. Because many students were not quite finished, I told them that they would have time to finish their work tomorrow. At which time I will work with students in small groups to do a quick edit before continuing with their narrative.