Workshops and Writing Lessons I Would Love to Do with Your Aspiring Authors
COOKING UP A STORY FROM SCRATCH
This is my all-time favorite writing workshop. Students identify story elements and then use a graphic organizer to create their own story. I like to bring in envelopes with story starters with this lesson to give the students a little "push" into creating a story.
HOW-TO PARAGRAPH/BUILDING A PARAGRAPH
Students learn how to build a paragraph with topic sentence, supporting sentences, and concluding sentence. Specifically students will write a how-to paragraph from a recipe the class stirs up together.
PROXIMATE POINT OF VIEW
This class has been taught to various ages, on various levels. This workshop teaches the nuances of point of view and how to bring those readers closer to your main character.
This lesson focuses upon what makes a complete sentence.
STORY BUILDING - ELEMENT BY ELEMENT
Each story element is focused upon individually - character, setting, plot, problem, solution. Students create each part and then put them together at the end.
DISSECTING A SENTENCE
Mrs. Mowery's old frog helps students look at parts of speech as well as sentence parts like subject and predicate.
This workshop discusses noun phrases, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases. These phrases are compiled into a flipbook to make crazy mixed up pictures and sentences.
THE ULTIMATE DESCRIPTIVE SENTENCE
This lesson utilizes pictures to identify parts of speech and then transform those words into a descriptive sentence.
HOLIDAY AND SPECIAL DAY LESSONS
For fall I created a lesson called Pumpkin Pals. This lesson includes creating a product, describing it and even has an optional component for presentations.
Turkey Protection Program includes several writing opportunities, including descriptive writing and story writing.
Turkey Cookie How-To involves creating and writing how their creation was made.
Christmas Ancestor writing unit contains varied types of writing assignments and includes a research component.
Santa's Reindeer are on Strike - this writing lesson includes a research component and an opportunity to write persuasively.
HOW I BECAME AN AUTHOR
I always enjoy coming in and talking to the students about how I became an author and what it involves.
FILL IN THE BLANK WITH THE LESSON YOU NEED
If there is a specific type of writing lesson you would like covered, please contact me. I will put my crazy mind to it and come up with an unique lesson to cover your objective.
Even the youngest can "write" a story.
Teachers, even the youngest of students can write a story. They might just need to express it in pictures and symbols if they have yet to master writing words and sentences.
In the Pre-K we have writing workshop. Our first story was about our first day of school. We first showed books and discussed the different ways we can enjoy a book. Of course you can read the words but you can also look at the pictures. We looked at some books with very little or no words. Then I demonstrated "writing" a story about my first day of Pre-K. I drew myself and a table with a couple of other friends. We were playing with some manipulatives. (I just used simple shapes to draw the pictures.) After drawing my picture, I "read" my story to them.
We then sent the students back to tables and gave them a piece of paper and a black crayon. They wrote their first day of Pre-K story. Then the teachers asked each student to tell their story as we made notes in a notebook about what they said.
The next day during center time, I pulled one or two students over to revisit their stories and see if they wanted to add anything.
We also had a share time. During this time a student wears the Super Author cape and I hold up their story for them to share with the class.
So remember, even the youngest child can write/express a story. You might be surprised at what their young minds can imagine!
FICTION STORY WRITING
The next time you want your students to write a story, consider giving them some story starters.
Here are some examples:
Write out generic character names on cards to hand out randomly - you might have such characters as a school teacher, a spy, a police officer.
Write out settings on cards like a jungle, a closet, a beach.
Either write out or use small objects like a shovel, a coin, a key.
An emotion can also be included in addition or in place of the object. You might use happy, scared, nervous.
Students should use these to make up a story.
I've found that when I give students "hints" like these, they can brainstorm and come up with a story more easily than totally from scratch. This activity can also spark some very inventive and imaginative tales.
Teachers, let me share a lesson with you about sentences that you can easily do with your students.
Deputize your students as Sentence Detectives.
If your kids get into such things, you could ask them to raise their right hands and swear to discover complete and correct sentences.
Assess students' knowledge of what makes a sentence.
Ask students: What is a sentence? How can we identify a sentence?
Some possible answers: Capital letter at the beginning, end punctuation, something you're talking about, and what it is doing.
Class Activity - Matching sentence parts
Use sentence strips or just cut strips of paper. On each write a subject or predicate.
Examples: The rocky steep mountains
rose into the misty clouds
The man with the dark mustache and old hat
shuffled down the sidewalk toward his mailbox
A herd of black spotted cows
roamed and grazed in the grassy field
Mix these up and tape or use magnets to post at the front of the class. Have student suggest which parts go together. Point out that often we see these standing alone as if they were sentences. Also teach them the names of the parts. The subject part is what or who we are talking about in the sentence. The predicate part is what that person or thing is doing.
Ask the students why we need sentences to be complete and begin with a capital letter and have end punctuation.
Possible answers: The meaning of a group of sentences might not be clear if it is just one big sentence. For others to understand what a writer intended, the rules must be followed.
Application - Becoming Editors
Now, let's become editors. Explain that an editor of a book or story checks to make sure that sentences are complete and understandable. Editors are like becoming the teacher, checking your work.
Have students utilize a piece of writing they have been working on. Can be anything from a story to a journal entry to a paragraph.
Explain that often when we try to check our own work, we miss errors. One way to avoid this is to start from the end of your writing and work backwards.
Begin with the last sentence of your writing. Check for a capital letter at the beginning and end punctuation. Then ask yourself if it is a complete sentence. Does it have the two main parts to be a complete sentence?
You may want your students to use colored pencils like a teacher or editor. They can follow a color code for their editing.
For example: Underline every capital letter with a green pencil. Underline all end punctuation with a red pencil. Underline the subject part of each sentence with blue and the predicate with yellow.
Some assumptions with the color code: Each time you see a word underlined in green, there should be a red underline before it. Between each green and red underline should be a blue line and a yellow line.
You can employ the same editing steps but allow them to trade papers, so they can "grade" each others' work.
Another idea is to have them choose sentences to code from a book or story they are reading.
Extend the lesson
Each student could choose what they feel is their best sentence and write it on the board or on paper strips to share with the class. The class should be detectives and let the student know if their sentence is indeed a complete sentence or not.
This lesson just brings more active and hands-on learning about complete sentences. It is much easier and more frequent that we see hands-on and active lessons in science, math, and even social studies. But including an active and hands-on component in language arts can make writing more appealing and exciting, which in turn means more positively motivated student-writers.