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May 1, 2018

7 Ways to Use My Favorite New Writing Resource: Story-Writing Sandwich Prompts

By Genia Connell
Grades 3–5

    Over the years I’ve accumulated dozens and dozens of reproducible teacher books that cover every topic over the sun. I certainly didn’t need another one for my “collection" but I recently saw a writing practice book I could not pass up. As I breezed through the pages of Story-Writing Sandwich Prompts, my mind began to buzz. The book is filled with 40 different story templates that help students practice writing beginnings, middles, and endings to short stories. The author, Teresa Klepinger, has purposefully grouped the templates into sandwich-themed groupings students can easily identify and relate to. The groups include:

    Top Slices: An engaging beginning is provided (the top-slice of sandwich bread) and students write a middle and a satisfying conclusion.

    Fillings: In this grouping, a middle is provided, and students need to write an introductory paragraph that makes sense by introducing the characters and setting, then provide an ending that wraps up the problem that was presented in the filling.

    Bottom Slices: The ending, or bottom slice of bread, is provided. Students write a beginning and middle that lead to the provided conclusion.

    The Bread: Knowing how the story begins and ends, students write the middle of the story.

    When I first glanced through the book, I knew the wide array of topics would appeal to every personality in my classroom. Immediately, I was able to think of several different ways I could use this resource in my third-grade classroom, and the sale was made.

    Over the past several weeks, I’ve used this book with my students and they have loved it. The variety of topics has allowed me to offer students choice in their writing practice while meeting state standards. As a bonus, the ready-to-print resource has saved me valuable time, something I can never seem to get enough of in the classroom. Here are a few ways this book has already been put to use in my classroom this year:

    Working Toward Writing Goals: While working in their narrative unit, students use a checklist-rubric to help them evaluate their work and set goals for each writing session. When I meet with students in small groups to help them meet their goal, these templates are the perfect teaching tool. Together, we can practice short beginnings and endings, adding appropriate dialogue or narration. A single template can meet many varying needs and goals in one small group, making lesson planning that much easier.

    Partner Writing: My students work with partners during reading to rehearse their stories before writing, to bounce ideas off each other, and for proofreading and editing work. They have also loved working with their partners to co-author stories on these templates. Putting their brains together to write a beginning, middle, or end has helped my students become better writers when they need to go back and do it independently. When they finish their shared-writing, my students love publishing them quickly using the voice-to-text feature on their iPads.

     

    Mentor Text: Thinking outside the box, I have used the prewritten prompts as mentor text during writing time. When I wanted to model captivating beginnings or solid endings that wrap up a story, I have used several of the prompts on the templates, showing them on the interactive whiteboard, then discussing the story part’s attributes. When students can see what makes a good beginning or ending, they seem to do a better job writing their own.  

    Standardized Test Practice: While I would love to say my students are thoroughly prepared for the state standardized test they’ll take in a couple of weeks, a little practice never hurt anyone. Over the years, I’ve noticed an emphasis on students needing to write beginnings or endings to prompts. My students have worked on beginning and endings, which we share to highlight what good writers do.

    Centers: I’ll put our several different prompts in folders labeled beginnings, middles, and endings, for students to select from and work on during a writing center. I’ve noticed greater effort and concentration when my students are given choice in their work. During writing conferences, the students almost always share that they made a particular choice based on a personal goal to improve their leads, character development or to strengthen their endings.

     

    Morning Work: Once students have been introduced to the purpose of these templates, I have occasionally used them as morning work for a calm and easy entry into our day.

    Lesson Plans for Substitutes: I sometimes struggle leaving writing plans for substitutes, mostly due to the fact I am a control freak when it comes to writing. When I left two sets of these templates out for my last substitute, I knew my kids would be working on valuable skills they could transfer to their writing when I returned.  


    While I was trying to convince myself I really didn’t need another reproducible book, I’m so glad I picked this one up.  I’ve already flagged several pages to use during these last few weeks of school and throughout my writing instruction next week. If you think you have room on your bookshelf for one more teacher book, and even if, like me, you don’t, I highly recommend giving this book a try. My students and I are certainly happy I did.

    Take care and happy writing! Genia

    Over the years I’ve accumulated dozens and dozens of reproducible teacher books that cover every topic over the sun. I certainly didn’t need another one for my “collection" but I recently saw a writing practice book I could not pass up. As I breezed through the pages of Story-Writing Sandwich Prompts, my mind began to buzz. The book is filled with 40 different story templates that help students practice writing beginnings, middles, and endings to short stories. The author, Teresa Klepinger, has purposefully grouped the templates into sandwich-themed groupings students can easily identify and relate to. The groups include:

    Top Slices: An engaging beginning is provided (the top-slice of sandwich bread) and students write a middle and a satisfying conclusion.

    Fillings: In this grouping, a middle is provided, and students need to write an introductory paragraph that makes sense by introducing the characters and setting, then provide an ending that wraps up the problem that was presented in the filling.

    Bottom Slices: The ending, or bottom slice of bread, is provided. Students write a beginning and middle that lead to the provided conclusion.

    The Bread: Knowing how the story begins and ends, students write the middle of the story.

    When I first glanced through the book, I knew the wide array of topics would appeal to every personality in my classroom. Immediately, I was able to think of several different ways I could use this resource in my third-grade classroom, and the sale was made.

    Over the past several weeks, I’ve used this book with my students and they have loved it. The variety of topics has allowed me to offer students choice in their writing practice while meeting state standards. As a bonus, the ready-to-print resource has saved me valuable time, something I can never seem to get enough of in the classroom. Here are a few ways this book has already been put to use in my classroom this year:

    Working Toward Writing Goals: While working in their narrative unit, students use a checklist-rubric to help them evaluate their work and set goals for each writing session. When I meet with students in small groups to help them meet their goal, these templates are the perfect teaching tool. Together, we can practice short beginnings and endings, adding appropriate dialogue or narration. A single template can meet many varying needs and goals in one small group, making lesson planning that much easier.

    Partner Writing: My students work with partners during reading to rehearse their stories before writing, to bounce ideas off each other, and for proofreading and editing work. They have also loved working with their partners to co-author stories on these templates. Putting their brains together to write a beginning, middle, or end has helped my students become better writers when they need to go back and do it independently. When they finish their shared-writing, my students love publishing them quickly using the voice-to-text feature on their iPads.

     

    Mentor Text: Thinking outside the box, I have used the prewritten prompts as mentor text during writing time. When I wanted to model captivating beginnings or solid endings that wrap up a story, I have used several of the prompts on the templates, showing them on the interactive whiteboard, then discussing the story part’s attributes. When students can see what makes a good beginning or ending, they seem to do a better job writing their own.  

    Standardized Test Practice: While I would love to say my students are thoroughly prepared for the state standardized test they’ll take in a couple of weeks, a little practice never hurt anyone. Over the years, I’ve noticed an emphasis on students needing to write beginnings or endings to prompts. My students have worked on beginning and endings, which we share to highlight what good writers do.

    Centers: I’ll put our several different prompts in folders labeled beginnings, middles, and endings, for students to select from and work on during a writing center. I’ve noticed greater effort and concentration when my students are given choice in their work. During writing conferences, the students almost always share that they made a particular choice based on a personal goal to improve their leads, character development or to strengthen their endings.

     

    Morning Work: Once students have been introduced to the purpose of these templates, I have occasionally used them as morning work for a calm and easy entry into our day.

    Lesson Plans for Substitutes: I sometimes struggle leaving writing plans for substitutes, mostly due to the fact I am a control freak when it comes to writing. When I left two sets of these templates out for my last substitute, I knew my kids would be working on valuable skills they could transfer to their writing when I returned.  


    While I was trying to convince myself I really didn’t need another reproducible book, I’m so glad I picked this one up.  I’ve already flagged several pages to use during these last few weeks of school and throughout my writing instruction next week. If you think you have room on your bookshelf for one more teacher book, and even if, like me, you don’t, I highly recommend giving this book a try. My students and I are certainly happy I did.

    Take care and happy writing! Genia

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