- Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Invite students to journal about what is read. Have them put themselves in Paulsen's shoes and evaluate how they would have handled each situation described in the story.
Each student will write an original memoir or personal narrative based on one important event in his/her life. Assign two due dates - one for the rough draft and one for the final draft.
Organize the students into small groups of 3 or 4, and on the due date for the rough draft, require students to bring in enough copies of the rough draft for each person in the group plus the teacher. (So, for example, if Johnny is in a group of 4, he will bring in 5 copies of his rough draft.)
On the due date for the rough draft, spend the entire class period in small groups. Use a timer to help with time management, as the goal is for everyone to have their memoir read by the entire group and get feedback. Each student will have a turn to read his/her memoir aloud to the group. The group members, while listening, may mark on the memoir either comments or questions or even corrections.
After the read aloud, give the group about 3 minutes to ask questions of the writer. Make sure the students ask ONLY QUESTIONS, as this seems to come across as less critical to the writer and helps maintain a professional tone within the group.
Afterwards, give the writer 2 minutes to ask the audience questions. These questions may be ones that highlight what the writer feels he/she needs help developing within the piece or even questions to help fine tune the piece of writing. Again, make sure the writer is only asking questions.
This procedure rotates until all students have shared and gotten feedback. Later, you'll find that the final drafts that are turned in are a huge improvement on the original memoirs. This is a super writing workshop activity.
Supporting All Learners
Students who have trouble staying focused while reading independently will enjoy reading in small groups where the students take turns reading aloud a page or two at a time. This strategy is particularly helpful for ELL students or lower level readers.
- Gary Paulsen's official Web site (external link)
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