Generating ideas; write about what you know
Mentor Text Suggestions:
- Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
- Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry
- “My Name” from The House of Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
- Journey by Patricia MacLachlan
- Baby name books
- Teacher original story modeled for students
I am always encouraging/reminding my students to “write about what you know,” and I look for ways to steer them toward meaningful topics. A topic that is near and dear to most children is their own names. I read aloud a book like Chrysanthemum to open the conversation about our names. I also bring in baby name books and allow them to search through to find the meanings of their names, other forms of their names, etc. I share with them that many authors have written about their names and that we can, too. To get them started, I write about my own name as they watch, and then I invite them to do the same. I am amazed at the type of writing this lesson inspires. Some children write about their nicknames and have humorous stories to tell. Others write about being made fun of because of their names and how that makes them feel. Some love their names and celebrate that in their pieces.
See below for a sample of modeled writing I did for my students about my own name. Then read the writing samples of some of my students below. Notice the influence that my writing had on my students’ pieces. We can be powerful writing mentors for our students. (see Teachers as Writing Mentors)
No, not Anne. Not Ann. Not Anna. No, no, no! Not Ann Marie or Anna Marie. No! It’s all one word—Annemarie. No, I don’t have a middle name. No, “Marie” is NOT my middle name. My name is Annemarie—all one word.
Ever since I was little, people have messed up my name. They either spell it wrong or say it wrong. Even though they mess it up, I still like my name. When I was in college somebody heard my name and called me Emery instead. After that my friends thought that was funny and started calling me Emery Board. Then they shortened it to just Board. So my nickname in college was Emery Board or just plain Board.