Friday, January 30, 2015

Writing With Your Students

Help your students become amazing writers by modeling fun writing strategies!

I love to write funny whimsical stories with my students that include them in the narratives as the antagonist or protagonist. The fun and engaging writing activity starts with the class selecting a mentor text in the form of a fable, fairy tale or myth. We rewrite the settings, characters, and leave the basic plot intact. This year we are using the IEW Institute for Excellence in Writing methods and structures to analyze the text and using their writing strategies, key word outlines and checklist to rewrite the text.

Writing Modeled by Benjamin Franklin

"I thought the writing excellent (Spectator), and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand."Benjamin Franklin

My favorite close reading and writing strategy that boost reading comprehension and writing skills is rewriting stories using a key word outline. You start by selecting a quality mentor text and create a bank of key words that are organized into a standard double space outline. This strategy will quickly help your students enjoy writing and speed writing competency. The close reading strategy can be used for all mentor text, text excerpts, short stories, paragraphs or poems: Select three or four key words from each sentence that will help you understand, comprehend and remember the content of that sentence. These words should be selected based on interest and importance to the reader and don't have to be teacher directed. Fill your key word outline with you three words from each sentence, separated by commas, on line number one of the key word outline. see model below

After the reader selects 1-4 key words from each sentence or line of text and puts them in a key word outline. They put the original text away and practice summarizing what they just read. After summarizing the passage orally with a partner or the teacher they create a new paragraph from the key word outline of the original text. When students practice summarizing, rewriting or retelling the story, ideas, facts, opinions from their key word outline they vastly improve reading comprehension.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The fable Summary

The tale concerns a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his flock. When one actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep (or, in some versions of the story, the boy) are eaten by the wolf.

The Boy Who Cried Zombie!
Once upon a time there was a school boy named Ralph who was bored to death of school, as he sat on the playground watching some kids doing punishment laps for not doing homework, he had a wicked idea! To amuse himself he looked around making sure the monitors were busy or distracted and then yelled out, "Zombies! Zombies! The Zombies are chasing the kindergartners around the school!" HELP!
The kindergarten teachers sprinted out to the playground to help the brave-heroic boy drive the zombies away. But when they arrived at the rolley slide, they found no sign of zombies. The boy laughed maniacally at the sight of their sad-angry expressions.
"Don't ever cry 'zombies', Ralph," said the teachers, "When there's no zombie!" They left grumbling and commenting that he should be in detention or do a ten ticket. One teacher remarked, “Ralph is just a bad seed.”
Later, the boy belted out again, "Zombies! Help! The zombies are chasing the kids up the jungle gym and down the slide!" To his wicked amusement, he watched the teacher’s dash out to the playground again expecting to help corral zombies in the jungle gym area.
When the teachers saw no zombies they harshly said, "Stop! Save your mean misleading moronic games, NOW! You’ll regret what happens when there’s really something wrong! Don't cry 'zombie' when there is NO ZOMBIE Ralph!"
But the boy just chuckled casually and watched them go grumbling back into their classrooms once more.
Later, he saw a REAL zombie prowling about the Rio Vista monkey bars. Shocked, he flew to his feet and screamed as loudly as he could, "Zombie! Help! A zombie is on the monkey bars!"
But the teachers thought he was trying to trick them again, and so they shut their doors and windows.
At lunchtime, everyone wondered why Ralph hadn't returned to the classroom at lunch time. They went out to the playground to find the boy eating something that looked like a brain. They found him saying over and over brains, brains.
"There really was a zombie here, said Mr. Taylor! Thank Goodness the kids are all safe except Ralph, the boy who stupidly cried zombie is a zombie ironically! As the boy sat there eating his brain he was thinking, I cried out, "Zombie!" Why didn't you come help me?"
An the principal tried to half heatedly comfort the zombie boy before calling his parents and telling them they had a zombie for a son.
"We'll help you look for a new school in the morning that takes zombies," he said, putting his arm around Ralph, "Nobody ever believes a liar and mean jerk...even when they are telling the truth!"

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