Inspiring Revision through the Mentor Text:
Tell students they will be revising their "Special Places away from Home" prompt writing, but first they will listen to how a really famous author describes a special place that two siblings will always remember. In this story, the siblings and their parents are moving away from a home they obviously love. The author paints a wonderful picture of their final memories of this place and she shares what the family does as they prepare to leave it on the leaving morning.
Enjoy the text aloud without stopping. Ask students to remember favorite details from the text. Hopefully they will remember the lips on the glass panes, since it comes back three times in the story.
Tell students that Angela Johnson uses a powerful technique that you want them to try in their revised versions of their stories: she focuses on a powerful image, which she uses to begin and end her story. This gives the story an organized structure. The fact that the image is used again right in the middle of the story makes the structure even more solid.
Read the whole book again, having students listen for imagery that is sound-related. Ask students to think about the most interesting sounds they associate with the special place they wrote about. Tell them, "Angela Johnson doesn't tell you EVERY sound. She chooses really interesting ones to include. Too much sound might make a piece of writing worse instead of better."
You might also Xerox the pages from the book that mention on "leaving morning." If you clip them, you can fit all these pieces of text on one page. Ask your students to think about what time of day they associate most with their special place: morning, afternoon, evening, night time, noon, recess, weekends, dawn, dusk? Challenge them to help their reader focus on a time of day they love to be in their place the most.
Model the revision process, using your own writing or the model below:
The garden is always there but I love it most in the morning. I sit on the rock wall my Grandpa built and listen to the birds sing. No matter what time of year it is, you can always find a flower that's blooming. Grandma loves her flowers. Grandpa prefers growing vegetables and the sound of his shovel turning over dirt is one I love to hear. I sit on the rock wall when I visit them and wish I could be here always.
Rewrite the writing prompt on the board: A Special Place Away from my Home.
Tell students you are proud that they wrote like students their age are supposed to write when they created their first drafts. Now, they must try to write about special place in a way that even Angela Johnson would
be proud of. They have learned two craft tricks: starting and stopping with an important image and focusing on sound for imagery.
If you can show them both your first model and your revised model at the same time, this may help students. For those who need help getting started with their revised draft, read aloud the first sentence of The Leaving Morning. Read it again and again. Challenge students to craft a sentence that sounds similar but is about the special place they remember. For example...
The garden is peaceful in the morning, when all you can hear are birds and Grandpa's digging...shooom, shooom.
This is revision, not editing (which comes next), so they should not worry about spelling and punctuation. This is their chance to get their ideas down a second time, but this time in a way that flows more like poetry.
Extend the Learning:
Assign a few more quick prompts to your students over the next week or two. This time, before students start writing, remind them of Angela Johnson's two craft tricks. Challenge them to use those tricks in their first drafts so they can try some new craft tricks during revision time.
Share your Students' Improved Writing:
(and earn a free resource for your classroom)
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 all grade levels for this lesson! If you obtain both a thoughtful rough draft and an even better revised draft from a student for this lesson (in typed, scanned, or photographed form), they can be posted at this blog page. If we select your student's sample to be moved from the blog to this page at WritingFix, we will send you a free NNWP Print Resource for your classroom.
At WritingFix, we aim to safely publish students' writing from all over the world. We're looking for student samples to post for this page's write-up! If your students write a rough draft that is improved upon by this craft lesson, we want to see both drafts! If we feature one of your student's writing on this page, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of the NNWP Publications for your classroom.