Friday, September 01, 2006
If it's Friday, it must be.....
In order to keep myself focused on writing and the tools that we need to teach writing well – I’ve decided to make every Friday a “Reading to Help Teach Writing Day” in which I’ll share the books that I use (and find) to help teach writing.
Since the opening of a new school year is here – I thought I would start with Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar (author of Holes). I love this entire series but this book in particular is rich with writing connections!!
Chapter 11 is titled “Voices” and is great for those teaching using the 6 Traits. The students are all introducing themselves to Mr. Gorf (a substitute teacher) and the voices are all unique!! Sharing this chapter with students helps them with the trait of Voice, as well as Ideas and Word Choice. Particularly relevant for those who might be teaching dialogue in writing.
I also like Chapter 14, “A Light Bulb, A Pencil Sharpener, a Coffee Pot, and a Sack of Potatoes” when working with Step Up to Writing and two-column notes. This chapter covers a science experiment on gravity, in which the students try to determine which object dropped from the window will arrive at the ground the fastest. I start with reading the title and asking “Which of these would hit the ground first if we dropped them from 13 stories up?” Students would write their guesses in the upper right hand corner of the paper. I then have students fold their paper in half (hot-dog style!) and write each of the objects in the right hand side. I explain that I am going to read the story aloud and as they hear about what happens in the story – they should “jot” notes in the right hand column. I remind everyone that “jot” means just one or two words – not copying everything that I say!! After reading the story, I ask students to look at their original guess about which object would hit the ground first and see if they were correct. Depending on the classroom – the discussion could go on from here: more note-taking, writing a paragraph, or even launching a gravity lesson!!
Chapter 5, “A Story With a Disappointing Ending” is another gem to help students with crafting their own endings and nice “hook” to dealing with conclusions.
All in all – Wayside School Gets Stranger is a quick and entertaining read rich with writing connections!! Enjoy! And Happy First Day of School!!