One narrative writing activity I sometimes do when I'm in a pinch and technology is not cooperating is what I call sticky note story starter. I give each student three different colors of sticky notes. On one color, they write down a character, on another, a setting, and on the other, a conflict. They fold up their sticky notes and put them in three separate containers. Each student then draws the character, setting, and conflict that they will form their story around. I usually only give students 15-20 minutes to write a complete story from beginning to end. We then share them aloud, and this is the first opportunity for revision. Because they are reading aloud, students realize errors they've made more quickly than they do when revising silently.
If I was going to do this activity over an extended time frame, we might look at some really descriptive narrative writings the next day, identify what makes them descriptive, and add more description in certain areas of the narrative. Another day we might look at dialogue, and on another, we might look at how characters reflect on their experiences within a text and apply that their stories. A way to make this more challenging or connect it to a unit is to put another parameter on the story. For example, you might say the story has to center around a theme of family obligation or feature a character who has strong transcendentalist values.
A strategy I'm currently using in expository persuasive writing is highlighted revision. I always give students the rubric that I will be grading with, but I've found that even if I go over the rubric, students rarely glance at it as they are actually typing their papers. To combat this, the day before their papers are due, I have them bring their draft to class. They switch with a partner and highlight each necessary component of the rubric in a different color. For example, they may highlight the thesis statement in yellow, the first argument and the supporting facts or examples for that argument in pink, the second argument and the supporting facts or examples for that argument in green, the address and refutation of the opposing side in orange, and transition words used in blue. This way, students can clearly see what they are lacking or if they do have all the essential elements of the essay, and it requires students to consider actual revision rather than just proofreading.
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Scaffolding the writing process is important regardless of the genre. I find it helpful to review the Common Core standards with students before beginning writing, so they know what is expected of them from each genre, as well as expectations for the production and distribution of writing and the research process which is required. When looking at the standards, don't just think about doing one writing standard at a time. The standards are integrated, so when working on 1 (argument), 2 (informative), or 3 (narrative), you can also focus on standards 4-10.
Providing exemplars is also great practice. Modeling yourself is great for the kids because they will nitpick your work and perform the peer review of a lifetime!
Lastly, try to make as many prompts text based as possible. Check out the template tasks in the Literacy Design Collaborative at literacydesigncollaborative.org for help in creating these prompts. There are also some great modules with all the necessary resources to execute a lesson.
Hope this helps,
Model the writing process for them. Sow students how the writing process is utilized with every step of examples and illustrations for them. If students write something, you should be writing at the same time, with your writing being displayed at all times ot show them what to do.
I am preparing my Special Education students for the writing exam, which we take in a out 4 weeks and I can say that I have managed to make writing more interesting by incorporating daily activies that is able to enhance thier knowledge of the type of writing they are utilizing, why it is being utilized, what information is contained in their specific type of writing, I have very high expectations of my students and this is why I have chosen to locate as many resources as I can. If we ALL believe then we ALL will ACHIEVE!!!!!
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