|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.
Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources:
Adapting this lesson: The author of this lesson, Jodie Black, is an amazing kindergarten teacher here in Northern Nevada. Her innovative ideas and love of teaching have been inspiring the writing teachers she presents to for years now.
One thing Jodie is exceptionally good at is her ability to create a lesson for her kindergartners that all teachers (k-12) find relevant, and we're always amazed at the number of secondary teachers who borrow Jodie's ideas and adapt them to work with their own students.
Even though this lesson was written specifically for Jodie's kindergartners, we invite you to ponder her lesson's big ideas and consider how they might adapt for your own students. If you fall in love with this lesson (like we did) and use it with students of a different age, share your adaptations with us at our teacher blog that accompanies this lesson.
Step one…sharing the song and other inspiring media: About three weeks prior to the writing lesson, I began by playing The 3 R’s by Jack Johnson during our regular music/song/singing time in my kindergarten classroom. We played the song over several days until most students had learned most of the words of the song. Next we took one lesson session to talk about the concepts outlined in the song: reduce, reuse, recycle. The text of the song gave us the beginning definitions.
About two weeks prior to the writing lesson, the children and I filled out a chart sized graphic organizer, to “develop ideas” in each of the greening categories we hoped to work on. Click here for an individual graphic organizer, which you might choose to have students fill out. Kindergartners can simply illustrate their organizer; click here to see how one of Jodie's kindergartners filled out his organizer with just pictures. Click here to see another kindergartners combination of words and pictures.
A day or so after we did our classroom graphic organizer, the children took home a pocket sized graphic organizer as homework. They were responsible for working with their families to list the ways they reduce, reuse and recycle at home. Click here to see one example of this completed homework. Click here to see another.
As students turned this homework in, we added the ideas to our classroom graphic organizer. Not all of the ideas from home were applicable to school, but we saved them, just in case. Click here for the homework graphic organizer.
Step two…introducing teacher models of writing: As a way to reinforce and enrich the thinking and activity that was going on in our classroom around our green ideas, I wrote two original songs using the tunes of two classic songs. I wrote these songs, inspired by a favorite classroom book: Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs by Alan Katz.
We learned “Clean It Up” (sung to the tune of Let It Be) and “Take Trash Out” (sung to the tune of Take Me Out To The Ballgame). We learned the words to the songs and then learned to sing them to instrumental versions, of which there are many. Now, whenever we have a big mess in our room that requires some teamwork, I play our instrumentals and the children sing along while happily and greenly cleaning up!
Eventually we recorded ourselves singing the songs and played the new version of ourselves for ourselves!
- We're looking for new samples for this lesson!
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 page for details.
Step three…thinking, talking, and pre-writing: Using the ideas contained in our classroom graphic organizer, now filled with ideas from school and from home, the students each picked one idea to write about and to illustrate for our classroom “Green Guide Book.” I created a simple template to assist the children with the writing format. We used the mentor text Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?by Bill Martin Jr.
Our template looked like the following:
What do you do?
I _______________________ at Rollan Melton School.
(McKenna’s completed text read, “McKenna, McKenna, What do you do? I try not to use the lights at Rollan Melton School.”) Click here for the a printable version of the template.
McKenna's final draft. Click on the picture to see it larger.
Depending on how much time you wish to devote to individual writing, the students can fill out the template and illustrate directly onto it, or they could copy over their text onto different paper. If you assist the children in using the graphic organizer to locate their ideas, they could find most of the words they need to spell in that location. Or, if you have them use the individual graphic organizer, jot their ideas down for them to create the spelling resource. In addition, if the children recopy their text, this provides an opportunity to teach the CONVENTIONS of comma, question mark and period contained in the text.
Older students might now be challenged to--inspired by my two models above--create their own Reduce, Reuse, Recycle songs that can be sung to familiar tunes. These songs can be written (and performed) by individuals or small groups. As older students create original songs, be sure to continue sharing from the Alan Katz book cited above. Katz is a master at choosing the perfect words to match the original tunes' rhythm.
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.