I See HUGE Improvement!!

Whew!  We finally finished our first “real” piece of writing this week and celebrated today!  Woo hoo!!

While these aren’t even close to perfect, they are a HUGE improvement from the writing sample I took the first week of school.  My heart is full!

We started with three kernel essays.  I didn’t give a prompt…and won’t for awhile…so it was their choice.  From there, we chose one to take into drafting.  We filled out our flipbooks (which you have seen if you’ve been following) and added as many details as we could.  Then it was time for revision stations.  Although it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, they DID add some details while rotating around the room to each station.  We’ll get there. 😉

To my surprise, my kiddos were able to complete their published piece in one day.  That made up for some lost time!!  Today we celebrated by walking around the room and reading papers that were laid out on our desks and made positive comments about them.  Tomorrow we will go over some common trends and talk about how to make this next one EVEN BETTER!  I can’t wait!

But…I needed to show off their hard work.  I’m so stinkin’ proud of how far they have come with just ONE lesson from Gretchen Bernabei’s book.  Have I told you that her strategies are EASY and FUN for everyone involved?  Just take a look for yourself….

Oh, and if you click on the pictures, you can see them much larger and actually read them.  :)

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I don’t have room to show off EVERYONE, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a small sampling of awesomeness.  Y’all…this is HUGE!  Can you even believe this transformation?  This is going to be an AH-MAZING year!  I can’t wait to see what our future holds!

How are your kiddos doing?  Are you using Gretchen’s strategies?  You should be… 😉

Ta ta for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From This to That: Narrative Upgrades

Not much writing for you tonight–just some samples of student work from the last couple of weeks before the Christmas break.  I took before and after pictures of my students’ writing.  I decided to let you actually see what their writing looks like–what we started from and how they made changes to complete their final copy.  For more information on what we did in between the rough draft and final copy, click here.  Enjoy!

Abram 1

Abram-Draft

Abram 2

Abram-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew 1

Andrew-Draft

Andrew 2

Andrew-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea 1

Chelsea-Draft

Chelsea 2

Chelsea-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daliyah 1

Daliyah-Draft

Daliyah 2

Daliyah-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Destiny 1

Destiny-Draft

Destiny 2

Destiny-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian 1

Julian-Draft

Julian 2

Julian-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKeanne 1

McKeanne-Draft

McKeanne 2

McKeanne-Final Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony 1

Tony-Draft

Tony 2

Tony-Final Draft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the final products after going back and trying to focus on only ONE event, and then adding in thoughtshots and snapshots.  They appear small in the post, but if you click on them you can read them much better when they enlarge on the screen.  I’m so proud of the work that these kiddos have done so far.  Looking forward to a fun new semester…and learning even more!

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Narrative Writing In Action

Just a short post for you tonight. I’ve been meaning to post some pics of my students’ rough drafts for their narrative pieces, but I’ve been so extremely busy with so many other things that it slipped my mind. Some students have already finished their publishing, so I figured it was past time to get these on the blog!

Last week we worked on thoughtshots and snapshots that Gretchen Bernabei references in her books and trainings. We used mentor texts from Fun Size Academic Writing for these activities, and the kids really took off with it. The picture below is the mentor text that we colored up for thoughts.

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We glued our drafts to large construction paper and then used the outside edges to write in our snapshots and thoughtshots. The students just drew arrows to the places where this new information would go.

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The students enjoyed the lessons, and once they were finished they were amazed at how their narratives were transformed. A quote from one of my students: “Wow, Mrs. Shook, my story sounds so much better with this extra stuff I added!” Gotta love ’em!! 😉

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Narrative vs. Expository

Texas requires all 4th graders to write a narrative AND an expository piece for their state assessment.  Now, if your school is anything like mine, students very rarely (if ever) write any sort of expository piece before stepping into a 4th grade classroom.  Nope, I’m not blaming the other grade levels because I know that they have their own battles to fight and win, I’m just stating reality.

So how do we tackle this?  How do we get students to understand the difference (and similarity) of narrative vs. expository writing?  What do we tell these kids?  My answer is simple.  Make it concrete.  Make it relevant and meaningful.  Allow students a visual that shows them, rather than just telling them.  I use grandma.

Grandma, you say? Yep.  I use an activity that I created (mostly on my own) that helps kids to compare narrative and expository writing.  It takes several glances at it to understand it completely, but my kiddos love to take “grandma” out and look at her and talk about writing.

"Grandma"

Here goes: I searched for kid-friendly grandma and balloons clipart.  I just googled it and found some that I liked.  I saved them, and then put the grandma pic in the center of a Word document.  I inserted a dashed line down the middle of the page.  I put the pics of the balloons on separate pages, so the students actually started with a page with only grandma and then a separate page with balloons.  I like to talk them through the process and leaving the balloons for later helps with our discussion.

I give the students about 10 minutes to color their grandma (helps with the management since they just HAVE to color her), and then we get down to business.  We then add Narrative and Expository labels at the top of each side of the page.  We talk about how grandma represents our topic.  I choose grandma because all students have some experience with a grandma, whether their own or someone else’s.  You see, the topic can be the same for both types of writing–it’s how the piece is written that makes the difference.  We notice how she appears on both sides of the page because of this.  We then label her as, “topic.”

Then we fold our page down the dashed line and talk about one side at a time (hence the lighting in the picture).  We start with narrative which is most familiar to them.  Narrative writing is when we tell stories from our hearts about a time we did something.  We use our Writer’s Tools to tell a story in the order that it happens.  In narrative, order matters!  I refer to the story of the 3 little pigs.  It just wouldn’t make sense or be the same story if the wolf visited the third pig’s house first.  It would change the whole outcome of the story, thus proving that order matters!  We discuss other stories and even refer to their own stories and think about how the stories only make sense in order.

Next we cut out and glue the cluster of balloons in her hands and label them one through five.  This represents the paragraphs that happen–yep–in order.  We put our own ribbons on the balloons and attach them to her hands.

Last, we add our sentences to the side that remind us of our purpose for narrative writing.

When we have finished with the narrative side, we flip our paper over and begin our discussion about expository writing.  This type of writing is not a story.  Instead, we are required to explain our beliefs on something and give reasons why we believe it.  In expository writing, order doesn’t matter.  We discuss various topics and give reasons why we believe what we believe, flip the reasons around, and then talk about how the reasons don’t have a specific order–unless you have a spectacular reason (like why you just can’t do your homework) that you want to save for the “grand finale,” as one of my students mentioned.  But overall, the order of your reasons really doesn’t matter.

We then cut out and glue the one balloon onto the paper and label it with “central topic” and “WHY?”  This represents the main idea of our paper and the purpose for writing.  We draw only one ribbon from the balloon to grandma’s hand and put flags on it with our Writer’s Tools.  Those tools help us to explain our beliefs and make our papers longer and coherent.

When finished, we add our sentences to the side that remind us of our purpose for expository writing.

It is very detailed and takes lots of time, but the students really respond to it, especially when you tell them that they will be required to add to a final discussion about the similarities and differences of these two types of writing!

Hopefully this makes sense to you.  It makes sense to us.  Please feel free to ask questions if you have them!

What do you do to help your students with this?  Leave a comment with your ideas!!  :)

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