Where Writers Get Their Ideas
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
The question "What should I write about?" haunts us as teachers. This lesson will help students develop topic ideas and allows them to see how published writers make the same decision.
- Observe and read about where authors get their ideas
- Create a chart to help remember these ideas
- Make their own idea list
- Photocopies of book flaps (about the author) from published books
- Chart paper and markers
- Where I Get My Ideas (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
- Collect and find many books with book flaps that explain how the author came up with his/her idea. Use these books for examples as well as photocopies.
- Make copies of multiple book flaps to use. Be sure they explain how the author came up with the story.
Step 1: Gather students to discuss what they already know about writers. Ask them where they think writers get their ideas and how you might find out where writers get their ideas.
Step 2: Display the "about the author" part of a book and discuss where this information can be found. Read the book flap and present a photocopied, enlarged version so that the students can all read it.
Step 3: Discuss where the author got his/her idea for this book. Glue the copied book flap to a chart, and write how the author got the idea next to it.
Step 4: Repeat this as a mini-lesson for the next couple of days. Also provide copied book flaps for homework, and continue to add ideas to the chart.
Step 5: Students can write a list of author ideas in the back of their notebooks to use as a reference in the future.
Step 6: Distribute the "Where I Get My Ideas" handout to the class. Allow them to brainstorm ways they can get ideas for writing topics. They may be tempted to copy some of the published author's ideas. That's certainly okay for now, so they can get themselves writing.
Step 7: Glue this list to the back of their notebook to use as a reference if they need it.
Supporting All Learners
The book flaps may be difficult to read for some of your learners. Be sure to include book flaps that are at different reading levels. Also make sure some of the book flaps are fairly obvious about where the author got his/her idea. To challenge more advanced learners, ask them to guess at a particular writer's inspiration, based on inference rather than pointed book flap information. For instance, what kind of person would think to write about African elephants? A magic school bus? A giant dog?
Ask parents to monitor the reading at home.
- Book flap nightly assignment
- "Where I Get My Ideas" list for notebook
Ask questions of yourself and the lesson:
- What went well?
- What didn't?
- Did the students end up with a greater source of topics to choose from?
- Did you help encourage original thinking?
- How could you change the lesson to better suit the needs of your class?
- Check the nightly book flap assignments to see if the students understand how to read for meaning.
- Ask questions and monitor for understanding during class discussions.