Writing Lesson of the Month Network

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I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by writing this year.  Any suggestions to get me started here?

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Hi Karen,

Well, there's a whole page of high-quality lessons posted at our "Lesson of the Month" archive: http://www.unr.edu/educ/nnwp/Mini_Lesson_of_the_Month_Club.html#arc...

--Corbett
Karen, look at what you have to teach according to your district/state. Usually personal memoirs or biographies are a genre you will need to cover. These are really good to start your year out with.
Start small, include sketching or drawing of things near and dear to the students. Then have them focus on one item to describe and make connections to why it's important to them. Let students know that rambling is OK sometimes and that great ideas often surface when they free their minds to just dump. Insist that students reread their notebook postings to find the "golden lines" and to lift that line/s and write more about it. Let them share often and teach them how to give specific feedback to each other even if it's just in small groups. If you dedicate time to this project and take small steps, it wil feed itself on the interest of the students because everyone likes folks to listen to their chosen thoughts. Enjoy the process; you will get better at it as you go along. Good luck!
Start with 10 of your favorite books, books that you know and connect with. Study these books. What makes them so good? Look at the craft (similes, beginnings, rising action, etc) and document this information. These can be your mini-lessons. Good writing is good writing. I could teach an entire year of writing with 10 Patricia Polacco books. Keep it simple. Hope this helps.
I teach 4th grade writing, and we (our writing team) like to start with reading Mem Fox's Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.  We talk about our special memories (something warm, gold, something that makes you cry, etc) and brainstorm physical items that they have at home that "bring back" memories like Wilfrid Gordon does in the book.  Students then bring the items to share the next day.  The sharing is good for getting to know each other at the beginning of the year, and it is great for getting students talking about memories.  After the sharing, we move into drawing out our "Life Maps" in our writer's notebook.  The five memories that they shared with their items are some of the first memories they add to their map.
Can you describe what a "life map" is?

Angela Naumann said:
I teach 4th grade writing, and we (our writing team) like to start with reading Mem Fox's Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.  We talk about our special memories (something warm, gold, something that makes you cry, etc) and brainstorm physical items that they have at home that "bring back" memories like Wilfrid Gordon does in the book.  Students then bring the items to share the next day.  The sharing is good for getting to know each other at the beginning of the year, and it is great for getting students talking about memories.  After the sharing, we move into drawing out our "Life Maps" in our writer's notebook.  The five memories that they shared with their items are some of the first memories they add to their map.

A life map is a graphic organizer that the students create that "maps" out their life memories in a chronological order.  This is just one way we help students start to think of ideas.  I teach 4th grade so I like to have students add 12-15 ideas to the "map".  Some students can go straight into designing a creative picture map, and some want to list the memories first.  I encourage the maps to be colorful.  I model creating a picture or symbol for each memory and then just one or two key words that would jog the author's memory of that life event.  I have had student create a curvy road and then place their memories along the road like intersections or stops along the way to where they are now.  Hope this helps!



Chandra Hough said:

Can you describe what a "life map" is?

Angela Naumann said:
I teach 4th grade writing, and we (our writing team) like to start with reading Mem Fox's Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.  We talk about our special memories (something warm, gold, something that makes you cry, etc) and brainstorm physical items that they have at home that "bring back" memories like Wilfrid Gordon does in the book.  Students then bring the items to share the next day.  The sharing is good for getting to know each other at the beginning of the year, and it is great for getting students talking about memories.  After the sharing, we move into drawing out our "Life Maps" in our writer's notebook.  The five memories that they shared with their items are some of the first memories they add to their map.

T hink of a favorite movie or anything that is special to you and start wtiting about it.

I am also new to 4th grade this year. I am extremely overwhelmed! I teach two 4th grade classes of Reading, Writing and Language Arts each day, and I have no idea where to begin with writing instruction. Do I begin with the Ideas trait and go from there or what? Also, I am still having to remind my students that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period (like I had to do when teaching 1st grade). I teach in Florida and we have the 4th grade state writing assessment this year. I want to do everything I can to motiavate my students to enjoy writing and to do their very best this year! Help!!    :)

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