Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Favorite Writing Mini Lesson

I'm linking up with Ideas by Jivey for another installment of Workshop Wednesday!  This week's topic:  Favorite Writing Mini Lessons.  Since we have been ENTRENCHED in testing this week (one more day of ELA to go!), I'm pretty happy to think back to some of the lessons I've taught this year.  My favorite unit to teach is always narrative and this year, I'm really proud of the lessons I taught for writing leads.

When I taught narrative this year, I asked my students to write realistic fiction.  I find it's easiest for them if they think of something that happened to them but fictionalize it slightly by changing the traits of the main character or the outcome of the conflict.  Once they have the story idea all mapped out, they are ready to draft, right?
Ha. Never.
How often do you hear "I don't know how to start!" ?  That phrase drives me batty!  So this year, I spent a full day trying out different openings.  I didn't introduce this lesson as drafting, I just told my kids that we were going to try on a few different openings and then share.  I put this image up on the SMARTboard and we discussed each of the possible openings we could use (my story was about a girl who runs a race, just barely loses, then practices and wins the next race).
Next, I gave students their own lead sheet to complete.  It was just a half sheet of paper, so it wasn't intimidating at all.
From this student, you can see that he borrowed my first opening pretty heavily, but the rest of the work was authentic.  I kind of love "Issaiah {held} the bat so hard {that} his hand {hurt}."
This student wrote "When Tania put her feet on the ocean, she felt like she was going to drown and the creepy sea creatures were going to pull her down and eat her."  Vivid, no?

The kids shared their possible openings with each other and the next day were ready to draft.  Instead of struggling with what to write, I modeled how I could use my favorite opening to begin my story. 

 If you want to grab my model leads, the student hand out, my model opening paragraph and a rubric for the opening, click HERE!

What was your favorite mini lesson this year?  Be sure to link up with Ideas by Jivey to share!  And while you are there, be sure to enter her 300 Follower Giveaway!


  1. I love teaching strong leads too!! Maybe that will be a topic one week- there are so many great ideas out there for them! Thanks for linking up!

  2. I love the half sheet of paper idea. I use it in other subjects, but haven't used it in writing. Thanks for the freebie!
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  3. Thrilled to have found a fifth grade teacher with a writing lesson. :) I just connected via Google Friend Connect and I grabbed your model. Thanks!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. Love the openings idea! It's just like using sentence frames for speaking, but it's writing oriented. Great tip!

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  5. What a great way to teach it! Too often, our stories start with, I woke up and... I've tried to get them to vary their beginnings, and I'll definitely give your idea a try!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine