Tie It Up With Transition Words To Write a Story!

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SWBAT identify the transition words in a literature piece and predict the ending using story structure; SWBAT write using a digital tool using the story structure and transition words.

Big Idea

Read, write, and present a digital narrative with transition words to help us put the events in order!



I chose this book because I consider it a classic and my kids love to hear it every year. I read the book aloud to the class because the lexile level is mid 3rd grade. The kids love the book because it's about a character close to their age, so they really identify. The discussion about the book often takes us off topic to personal stories about when we have a bad day. I usually spend time apart from this lesson for a social skills lesson about how to handle disappointment, troubles, and 'bad days'. This book is a great lead in for that topic.

Take some time and familiarize yourself with the app. Make a story on the app of yourself in 3 screens (there's an example in resources of the story I made). The kids maneuvered through the app easily, but it would be worth trying it yourself so you can answer questions.

This lesson is the last in my predicting unit. I have used iPads several times and talked about how to predict using story structure over the course of the unit. Some of my other lessons included:  take a look at Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 1 of 2), Peek Inside and Predict (Lesson 2 of 2)Predict the Ending - It Goes Around and AroundPredict the Ending and Use the Characters' VoicesMaking Shadows with Foreshadowing While We PredictPredict Using Characters' Action and Rhythm, and Go Figure with Figurative Language

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Engage students

  • “I want to tell you story, First…A while ago…. At the beginning…this morning… today…not too long ago…and then.. next…later….after that…second…soon after…between… and finally, the last part.. last…third..in the end… when we were done.”
  • “Did you like my story?  Why not?”  prompt for ... I didn't tell what happened, just when.
  • “How about this story…?  Can you tell me what to do first in this story?  Mix the batter.  Pour in the eggs.  Put the butter in the batter.”  What do I do first in that story? Was it easy to tell the order of my story?  Why not?”


The students REALLY got this idea, even though there were no visuals.  I just added ideas for the explanation of 'why' they did not like the stories.  I demonstrated THINKING OUT LOUD..."So you said you did not like the first story - let's see there were no characters and nothing happened, so there was not structure ..."

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Explain the concepts 

  • “My first story had transition words but not events. In the second story I didn’t use any transition words to tell what happened first, second and third."
  • "Transition words help to make a story flow and give meaning and structure to the story.” 
  • “The beginning of the story is the introduction. Look at the chart – here are some transition words that introduce.” Refer to the top section of the chart.
  • “In the middle of the story, there are words that move the story along and give it order." Refer to the middle section of the chart.
  • “At the beginning, the words let us know that the end is coming.  Here are some words on the chart that show you are reading the conclusion.” Refer to the words on the bottom section.
  •  “I brought a literature story called Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Let’s look for transition words in this story. I'll read it aloud and we can see if they're on the chart."  I added some transition words as I read because the story didn't have enough.  I really wanted to use the story, even without a good supply of words.
  • Here's what the whiteboard looked like when I was done.



  • "When we write stories, transition words make it clearer and it sounds more like a third grader wrote it."  My kids really feed off those 'be like a 3rd grader' comments.
  • “Let me show you a story that I wrote with a digital tool - an app -  with a clear beginning, middle and end as well as transition words."
  • "I used an app called StoryBuddy 2."
    • "I brainstormed a simple story that I could take pictures of here in the classroom. It had a beginning, middle and end to the story (3 pages) and details."
    • "I took pictures to go with the story using the Ipad."
    • "Then I chose unique transition words to show the beginning, middle and end."
    • "I added some fun graphics and ‘whala!’ I made a story – take a look!”
  • Here's what the teacher's story looked like.


As students examine the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action signified by these transition words, they are analyzing the discovering the structure of texts and how specific portions relate to each other rand the whole. (RL.2.5) I chose to demonstrate this structure with a literature piece and then give them the create a carefully structured situation to allow students to write independently, which has been a focus for me as I transition to the Common Core State Standards.

The Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

 Explain the task

  • “Now its your turn to make a story with a group.  When you work in groups, make sure to collaborate – let’s take a look at the group rules poster”.
  • WE'll be using iPads - remember our iPad Rules that we came up with at the beginning of the year."
  • "You'll create a story with 3 scenes to act out with your group."
    • “You must have a clear beginning, middle and end to the story. Keep it short - typing takes a long time!"
    • "Take pictures of yourselves acting out the story."
    • "Type a phrase for each scenewith UNIQUE transition words – no first, second third …”  
    • You have 5 minutes to brainstorm – let me know when you’re ready for you ipad to take pictures and I'll pass out the iPads.”


As students use a digital tool to produce and publish writing and collaborate with peers, they are using the technology and interacting with others. (W.2.6). As they continue on through their education, digital learning will continue to be integrated more and more and early exposure and practice to digital tools will not only motivate and educate them, but ensure they are comfortable publishing a variety of pieces in a unique format. This will allow them to demonstrate content literacy expertise (using digital writing tools) to other students and in future learning situations, an important part of how I approach teaching the Common Core State Standards. 

Monitor student work

  • Walk around and encourage the kids to use words from the poster. 
  • Make sure they have a clear idea of their story in 3 pieces before you hand out the iPads.
  • Here's an example of a one group's story.


As students write these narratives to recount a short sequence of events, they are including details and using temporal words to signal event order and provide a sense of closure. (W.2.3) The ability to develop imagined events demonstrate effective techniques in writing (transition words and event order) and structure events in sequences is a part of the Common Core State Standards for writing. Students are also writing from sources (the Transition Words poster) to improve writing abilities. 

Apply It!

10 minutes

Let's share

  • “Now let’s take turns sharing stories."
    • "Think about who has a story with a clear beginning, middle and end?"
    • "Which group used INTERESTING transition words?"
  • “You did a great job today creating digital stories and using your own pictures.  You used great transition words to really show a clear beginning, middle and end. Let’s keep looking for these transition words in stories that we read to help us understand the story better.”


Students created these stories and added drawings to share ideas, thoughts and feelings. (SL.2.5) Using the computer and iPads helps me make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to help students express information and enhance understanding of their presentation.  Then kids LOVE using these digital tools, but we need to incorporate the activities as part of a larger learning experience. It takes some planning and practice, but digital tools, which will be an integral part of our students' lives, can be educational and fun.


Scaffolding and Special Education: You could scaffold this lesson up or down, depending on students’ abilities.

Since the students are working in groups, it’s easy to ensure they are compensating for difficulties with writing, vocabulary or creativity because there are group members collaborating.  If your students have not worked in groups before, remind them about the idea of collaboration and take some time to review the group rules poster.


If you have an extra 10 minutes, here's a youtube video of the story in a song format.