Monday, March 31, 2014

Writing realistic fiction stories

One of my favorite parts of the school day is writing time.  I love joining together on the carpet to discuss what writers do, I love the mini-lessons that are to the point, I love hearing Martha Stewart's lullabies everyday and I love scooting in beside a writer and conferring.

This year we have incorporated Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for the Common Core.  I have to say I like it a lot better than the old Units of Study but still love to create my own lessons. Below are charts based off the charts in the book (with slight changes).
I really love the checklist for each genre.  My students are constantly at the chart or looking at their personal one inside their writing folder.

I said above that I love creating my own lessons.  If you have read my blog before you know I love to use mentor texts as examples.  In every genre, we use several books to name authors' introductions and conclusions.  It can be quite eye opening what the students notice.
For this realistic fiction chart we used Junie B. Jones, Mittens, Amelia Bedelia, and Knuffle Bunny.

For this next chart we really explore one text, I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child.  Everyone in my classroom loves Charlie and Lola, including me!
To prepare the chart I only have the title and the book pages.  The students decide how to label what the author is doing. 

An ABSOLUTE must for our writing time is a rubric with writing examples that we call Stage Pages.  Before the unit our first grade team reads over the rubric for the county and we create pages that look like Emerging, Progress with Support, Meeting and Exceeding.  We keep them in page protectors so we can model how to add on to a paper that isn't meeting standards or how to enhance a meeting to an exceeding story.

Three stars = meeting standards

The students and I refer to the rubric every day.  We make goals for our time each day based off the rubric and it really helps to refer to during conferring.

NOW comes the number one thing that influences my students writing....other student's writing!
Each day we start our workshop by admiring someone else's work.  I purposefully select students' work that hits on the lesson from the day before, shows tremendous growth, hits on our lesson of the day, or extends the  work we've been doing but tries something new.  By the end of the unit (20 days), I usually have selected  a page from each student.  

During the workshop, I usually try to look out for pages to admire.  I'll say to the student, "At the end of writing can I borrow your paper?"  Then I make a copy (so we can keep it up in the classroom) and then the only other thing you need is Post-Its.

Happy Writing!


  1. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should

    let it grow and share it with the world.>self

    education resources

  2. Would you be willing to share or sell your Stage Pages for each unit? I'm doing a Lucy Calkins writing pilot this year and have been struggling with developing samples reflecting each level of the rubric. I would be forever grateful for your help! I couldn't agree more that the students need concrete examples of the expectations since the wording of the rubric doesn't always transfer for them. This blog post was SO helpful, can't wait to dive into more of your posts! Let me know, thanks!