Apostrophe Detectives

Nov 6, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: Writing conventions Mentor Text Suggestions: Alphie the Apostrophe by Moira Rose Donohue The Girl’s Like Spaghetti by Lynne Truss Greedy Apostrophe by Jan Carr The Perfect Pop-Up Punctuation Book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels Description: This lesson focuses on apostrophes, but the procedures can be used for any writing convention. I noticed that my students were very confused about the proper usage of apostrophes. As with anything new, learners tend to overuse punctuation–some of them even started using apostrophes in every plural noun (“I have three cat’s.” “The flower’s are blooming.”). I decided to launch an investigation that we called “Apostrophe Detectives.” Each student searched through their independent reading books for words that contained apostrophes and wrote both the word and the phrase or sentence that contained the word. Next I...

read more

Narrative vs. Expository

Nov 5, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: text structure; organization Mentor Text Suggestions: Narrative vs. Expository Companion Books Narrative Expository Description: To help students see the difference between narrative and expository text, begin by reading aloud two companion books about the same topic—one narrative and one expository. Example: Miss Spider’s Tea Party by Kirk, Neeley and White (narrative) and Spiders by Gail Gibbons (expository). Discuss the text features of each and record students’ observations on chart paper. Lead students to conclude that the narrative (story) has characters, setting, problem, solution and the author’s purpose is mainly to entertain. Conclusions about the expository (informational) text should include that it uses facts to explain, describe, persuade, instruct, or retell. The author’s purpose is mainly to inform the reader rather than entertain. During subsequent read aloud sessions, ask students to identify whether...

read more

Walk Around in the Author’s Syntax...

Nov 5, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: Sentence fluency; conventions Mentor Text Suggestions: The Whale’s Song by Dyan Sheldon Crab Moon by Ruth Horowitz Shortcut by Donald Crews Description: This strategy, described in Mentor Texts by Dorfman and Cappelli, is an effective way to help students try out a variety of sentence structures and help them begin to internalize language conventions. Lift an excerpt from a text such as the example below from Shortcut by Donald Crews: I HEAR A TRAIN!” Everybody stopped. Everybody listened. We all heard the train whistle. Should we run ahead to the path home or back to the cut-off? Read the passage aloud several times so that students can hear the rhythm of the text. After discussing what they noticed, have students participate in a shared writing experience. Give them the beginning sentence and...

read more

Attention-Grabbing Leads

Nov 5, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: Organization Mentor Text Suggestions: Hey Al by Arthur Yorinks (description of character and question) Big Mama’s by Donald Crews (question) My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray (description of a person) Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (setting the mood) All About Owls by Jim Arnosky (question lead) Vote! by Eileen Christelow (What if..? Scenario) The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (quote) My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris (anecdote) Description: It is amazing how even this one mini-lesson can dramatically improve student writing. When a writer begins with a good lead s/he sets the tone for the entire story and entices the reader to read on. It is important that the first few sentences of a story grab the reader’s attention. Young writers often fall into the trap of beginning with a generic lead that...

read more

Satisfying Endings

Nov 4, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: organization Mentor Text Suggestions: Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies Just Like Daddy by Frank Asch The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger Rain by Manya Stojic Treasures of the Heart by Alice Ann Miller Big Mama’s by Donald Crews Birthday Presents by Cynthia Rylant Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack Description: A conclusion that leaves a final impression on the reader is just as important as an attention-grabbing lead. Students fall into traps with conclusions just as they do with leads. When students don’t know how to end a story, they will wind up saying something like: “And then I went home and went to bed.” “That is the end of my story.” “I hope you liked my story.” “I woke up and it was all a dream.” To help them avoid these traps, teach...

read more