Writing With Writers for Grades 1-3
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
The focus for students in this age group is to introduce different writing genres and improve writing skills in these areas.
- Identify unique characteristics of different writing genres
- Follow the writing process for different genres to create original writing
- Use web technology to post original writing online
- Demonstrate understanding of different genres by responding to questions
- Understand how to review and revise their own writing
- Review and present constructive criticism to peer writing
- Learn to think critically and objectively about their reading
- Learn to review and revise their own writing
- Produce written work to show evidence of knowledge of the different genres
Set Up and Prepare
All the articles in the Writing With Writers project are formatted to be read online or printed. Depending on the availability of classroom computers and time, you may wish to print these articles for individual reading at home or in class.
The Writing With Writers project is meant as a skill building exercise that should be done individually. However, students can work collaboratively in leveled reading groups, joint brainstorming sessions, and peer reviews of their written works before submitting it for teacher assessment and online publication.
If a computer is available for each student, students can work on their own. Hand out the URLs or write them on the board so students will have a guide through the activity.
If you are working in a lab, set up the computers to be on the desired Web site as students walk into class. If there are fewer computers than students, group the students by reading level. Assign each student a role: a "driver" who navigates the Web, a timer who keeps the group on task, and a note taker. If there are more than three students per computer, you can add roles like a team leader, a team reporter, etc. Students can work through the steps together this way and then write their poem, book review, news article, etc. off line and enter this written piece into the publishing element individually.
If you are working in a learning station in your classroom, break out your class into different groups. Have rotating groups working on the computer(s), reading printed background information, reading examples of the genre, writing their pieces, reading each other's work, and editing their work.
Background (1 Day)
Invite students to discuss what they know about the chosen genre.
For Folktales: Ask students to discuss what they think folktales means. Point out that folktales are stories passed on from one person to the next by word of mouth or by oral tradition. Read aloud a favorite folktale (you can use any or all of the examples in Step 1: Folktales.) and discuss defining elements of folktale. Have students point out the characteristics of a folktale, for example: takes place anytime, tales place anywhere, animals can talk, etc.
For Poetry Writing with Jack Prelutsky or Jean Marzollo: Go through a few well-known poems with students, and read some favorites aloud. Have students discuss poems that they know. Ask: How are poems different from stories?
Introduce students to the poetry styles of the author that best suits the needs of your class: Jack Prelutsky or Jean Marzollo. As a class, read examples from the two authors, and allow students time on their own to visit the pages and read author bios or print-out pages from independent reading. You may wish to read aloud with individual students.
Pre-writing (2-3 Days)
Let students know that they will be writing original pieces. Point out that each writing genre has its own rules, and that these rules will help students construct their own pieces. Encourage students to visit the brainstorming and tips page for the genre they are working with.
Folktales: Read the Step 2: Brainstorming and Step 3: Write Your Own Folktale with the whole class or in small groups. Use "Half-Chicken" or "The Shark God" as a model to illustrate tip ideas as you read them. For example, when reading that the folktale genre entails imagining the world that acts as the setting, remind students that rivers and fires can speak in Half-Chicken's world. Then suggest students work in groups to go through Step 3 again, and write down ideas for their folktales.
Work with students as a class to develop the first tip. Create a rhyming wall on the chalkboard. Divide it into three columns, one for each "syllable" word. Encourage students to use made-up words as well. Discuss why rhyming might be a good tool to use in poems. Then suggest students work in groups to do the activities in the brainstorming section.
Visit her "Write Your Own Poem Riddle" page for riddle writing tips or Riddle Writing Hints. Share an I Spy book with students, if possible, to familiarize them with the poetic style. Tap out the rhythmic pattern with students as they read. Read aloud Jean Marzollo's "Riddle Writing Tips" page with students. Encourage students to view the published pieces of poetry to use as models for their own work. Invite them to tour the I Spy gallery for models.
Drafting (1-2 Days)
Now, it's time for students to draft their poem or folktale. As a class review the tips aloud and give students clear instructions on how you want them to write their poem or folktale. Post the writing rubric in the classroom for students to use as a guideline for what is expected of them.
Jack Prelutsky: Have students refer to Jack Prelutsky's "Write Your Poem page" Suggest that they read all three poems first. Then after choosing the one they like best, have them extend it to create their own version of the poem.
Jean Marzollo: Suggest that they re-read the ideas presented in Jean Marzollo's "Riddle Writing Tips" page before they attempt their own work. Encourage students to draw their picture as they write four lines of a riddle poem (see More Tips in Step 2). Remind them to notice the placement of rhyming words and punctuation.
Revising (2 Days)
When students are done with their drafts, have them exchange papers with a peer for comments. Partners can write their comments on the draft itself. Then have students follow the revising guidelines on the tip writing page of each section. While students revise their drafts, have them check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
Publishing (1 Day)
Once students have completed their revision, have them follow directions to Publish Online with Alma Flor Ada and Rafe Martin for folktales, Jack Prelutsky for poetry or Jean Marzollo for ISpy Riddles Riddles.
Project Wrap-Up (2-3 Days)
Give students time to complete any unfinished work. Use this time to schedule a performance day. Assess students' proficiency with the writing activity.
Folktale's Writers Workshop With Alma Flor Ada and Rafe Martin
- What were your favorite folktales that you read? What was it that made you like them?
- What helped you best in brainstorming for the folktale?
- What was different between the first and second draft of your folktale?
Poetry Writing With Jack Prelutsky
- Did you like writing a poem on an every day object? What was hard and what was easy?
- What are some of the synonyms you came up with in your brainstorming sessions?
- What helped you best in brainstorming a new poem?
- What were some of the difficulties in editing and re-writing a poem?
Poetry Writing With Jean Marzollo
- What was the hardest part of writing a poem that had to be in one pattern?
- Which was harder to do: write the poem or draw the picture?
- Did you learn some interesting words in writing an ISpy riddle? What were they and what makes them interesting?
Supporting All Learners
This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.
- Unifying concepts and processes in Science: Systems, order, and organization.
- Understands basic features of the Earth (1).
- Knows the general structure and functions of cells in organisms (6)
- International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts (1).
- Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes (4).
- Students enjoy a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing-process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes (5).
- Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts (6).
- Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience (7).
- Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge (8).
- Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles (9).
- Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities (11).
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of the information) (12).
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
- People, Places, and Environments (Students study the lives of people, the places in which they live, and the environment that surrounds them.)
- Individual Development and Identity (Students study how personal identity is shaped by one's culture, by groups, and by institutional influences.)
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity use technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences
- use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
Formal Assessment Ideas
Each of the Writing With Writers components has a formal assessment with the student writing. Make sure students either preview and print a copy before submitting their work online or use a word processing document to print a copy for teacher assessment. See the appropriate rubrics below.
Informal Assessment Ideas
Create a Certificate of Achievement for each student's completion of a Writing With Writer's components.
This Certificate gives the student a feeling of achievement especially since all submitted material must be approved by Scholastic and is not immediately published.
Use the writing rubrics to assess your students' writing skills. These rubrics can also serve as models for a modified version that might include your state's writing standards.