Happy New Year! While I know many school districts went back to school this Monday, we have been back in school since January 2nd! At this point in the school year, I love to take the time to challenge my students to think about their work so far and where they hope to be by the end of the school year. To incorporate the start of the new year, we work on goal-setting and we resolve to do things that will help us to be an even better version of ourselves.
I started the week-long writing assignment discussing commercials students have been seeing a great deal of on TV. Many confirm they have seen lots of commercials for gym memberships and weight-loss companies. I ask them why they think these are so “in your face this time of year?” and they were able to respond that “with the new year comes people setting goals to become better.”
We created a brainstorm cloud where students listed ways they could improve upon themselves. Some were very forthcoming and willing to share things that they thought needed improvement. Examples were: practicing harder, putting more effort into school work, listening more to a parent, being more responsible, etc. We discussed the difference between setting a goal versus achieving a dream.
Next students decided on the three things they wanted to work on, starred them on their brainstorm cloud, and got to work on their organizer. We tackled the topic sentence first, so students understood how they needed to begin the task of organizing their writing. I helped them through this by modeling with my three resolutions: saving more money, being less quick-tempered, and saying only respectful things about others.
Once we established our topic sentence, I showed students that my BING paragraph would be all about saving money, my BANG paragraph would be all about being less quick-tempered, and my BONGO paragraph would be all about saying only respectful things about others. I have to share that my students loved hearing the stories behind my resolutions and were very enthusiastic about helping with with the three strategies to achieve each of them. In addition to having three strategies, each paragraph needed to include an opening sentence-introducing the resolution and a concluding sentence-bringing the paragraph to a close.
After the modeling, students began working independently as I moved around the room. I was so thrilled to see how enthusiastic they were about writing to achieve their personal goals.
Day 2: We discussed what we did the previous day and got to work on our introduction and conclusion. Some may find this strategy backwards-I have have found that it can be tricky for students to find a place to begin. With each of their body paragraphs completed, I explained that now they simply have to grab the reader’s attention, and then bring the work to a close.
I gave the example of crime shows. Often the writers open the show with a person dead on the sidewalk to grab the audience’s attention, so you are hooked and don’t want to change the channel. They got it, so we began working together to create a “hooky” introduction. They agreed that asking questions and using exclamations would hook a reader. We created a model and did the same for the conclusion.
For the conclusion we discussed how we are bringing the piece to a close and sending the reader on their way. This is NOT the time to share new information, but instead give the reader the chance to reflect on what we have shared. Again, they got it and were on their way! The students completed their organizers and were ready to draft.
Here are a few pics of my students drafting…
Yesterday I had the chance to have writing conferences with them. They signed up for a conference once they completed their draft. My focus in conferencing was: mechanics-CUPS-capitalization, usage/grammar, punctuation, spelling. Lastly, we discussed organization and the use of transitions in their sentences. Students re-wrote their drafts and will be publishing them on the laptops tomorrow. I will share a few examples of these final pieces soon!
While students are at different levels in their writing abilities, this is a writing strategy that they will find useful through their college years. In addition, it can be modified for multiple uses: friendly letters, persuasive pieces, and expository writing where directions are given. I would love to hear about the tools you utilize to enhance writing in your classroom settings.