a personal narrative inspired by Milkweed's powerful first chapter
This lesson was developed for WritingFix after being proposed by NNWP Teacher Consultant Amy Hybarger during an AT&T-sponsored in-service class for teachers.
The intended "mentor text" to be used when teaching this on-line lesson is the chapter book Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli. Before writing, students should listen to and discuss the writing style of this book's author, especially from chapter 1 of the book.
If you are a Washoe County teacher, click here to search for this book at the county library.
A note for teacher users: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how you become an authentic writing teacher.
& Lesson Resources:
Pre-step…before sharing the published model: Before starting the lesson, I would suggest reading the picture book Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold and discuss the types of language she uses in the book to articulate a particular event. Students need to also discuss the development of how her ideas flow.
I would also play the song “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson to get the students thinking about a particular moment they want to write about.
Step one (sharing the published model):To start this lesson, read chapter 1 from Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli. Chapter one starts with the word MEMORY and continues. Using WritingFix's Idea Development Post-it® Note-sized templates, have half of your students listen for and then rank Spinelli's idea development skills. Have the other half of your students rank his word choice skills using the Word Choice Post-it® Note-sized templates. Before students share their rankings, have them discuss with a partner who has the same type of Post-it® Note-sized template.
You can read chapter two as well, if you want students to further think about Spinelli's word choice and idea development. Ask students to write down some of the most powerful words that they remembered as the text was be read.
Step two (introducing student models of writing): In small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson. The groups will certainly talk about the word choice, since that's the focus of this lesson, but you might also have your students talk about the idea development in the writing too.
WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!
We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson! Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom! Visit this lesson's student samples pagefor details.
Step three (thinking and pre-writing):The Interactive Button Game on the Student Instructions Page will get your students thinking about a memory they might use to create their memoir for this assignment.
Students will use the graphic organizer after selecting their “moment” from the “stir up memories” button. This graphic organizer will help them recall all of the ideas they had about the particular moment. Next, students will use the questions on the graphic organizer to stimulate good words to incorporate into their essay. Once they have completed the graphic organizer they may begin the writing process.
Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.
We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.
Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.
Step four (revising with specific trait language): To promote response and revision to rough draft writing, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-it® Note-sized templates to your students' drafts. Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-it® Note-sized templates, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5." Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings. For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-it® Note-sized templates, click here.
Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.
Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.
Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.
Step five (editing for conventions): After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor. If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers. With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-it. The "Community of Editors" idea is just one of dozens and dozens of inspiring ideas that is talked about in detail in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Workbook for Teachers.
Step six (publishing for the portfolio): The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block. The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.
Interested in publishing student work on-line?You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.
To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.
Learn more about Jerry Spinelli's books
by clicking here!