Friday, February 5, 2010

Chapter 10: Leads...Breaking the Ice
Great beginnings? Leads? Grabbers? Hook? All words for the same strategy!
Building a common language is most important when working school wide with any subject. All of these represent what the writer writes first and what the reader reads first. The writer has to capture the reader's attention. I use the term "Grabbers". Our fifth graders use rhetorical questions a lot. It is easy to turn the prompt into a question so it is usually the grabber they gravitate to most. Using Razzle Dazzle, we gathered a complete chart of grabbers for the students to "test drive" in their papers. By introducing the various type of grabbers, students have the option of using the ones that "fit" them as a writer. Since our students are writing 1 1/2 to 2 pages not a chapter book, for us...grabbers seem to work best when I teach writing!

Chapter 11: The End...Getting the Last Word
Endings are hard! Students can be frustrated on just how to end their papers yet they know it must come to a close. Humor is something I've noticed very little in most children's writing but I think it is because it is hard to "think" as a child. As a teacher of writing, you must work on "thinking" like your children so that you understand them through their writing. We must recognize what is humorous to them. They are just children. Currently, I use Razzle Dazzle's Take Away Endings with my students. It has given them "the power of the end". I provide a chart of the various take away ending stems and they choose which ones successfully end their piece. In Narrative, they usually choose two stems to complete to finish their story. It really makes an impressive ending!

Chapter 12: The Small Important Things
Wouldn't our kids just love the story of the "brothers who ate the world"? Yuk and gross all at the same time! RF says that students must "learn to use details to breathe new life" into their writings. I love the idea of choosing "odd details that will stick in the reader's mind". We are always telling our students to let our words make pictures for our readers. Descriptive detail writing does that. When looking at a picture (example: snowman in a wooded field) and asking students what do they see, they'll usually say a snowman and trees out in the grass/field. But when you teach them to zoom in on the picture...look deeper at the details, someone might say the trees are evergreen with thousand of green pine needles, the trees reach the vast blue sky, the snowman was built with spheres of snow and pine branches for arms, etc. The details make the piece more vivid and interesting to read. On page 105, RF talks about inventing details. The example of the clay is really a great example to show how our writing can be shaped and recreated into something wonderful. I call it the MSU strategy! My students know it well. MSU-Make Something Up!


Miss Taylor's 3rd Grade said...

I never knew the different types or names of leads. Although I knew of different ways to start stories, the categories make them easier in teaching and modeling for children. While reading, I made a connection with Fletcher; I like to write my en tire story or essay before coming back to the introduction. I feel like if I know everywhere I’m “going” with the story, I can come back with a better lead.
As far as endings go, I liked the idea of using a star next to the funniest part of the story. He said to consider using it as the ending instead. My children strive to be comedians! Personally, I’m more of the circular ending type.
We tell children “use your imagination” all of the time. Fletcher mentions writing is much easier when you know about the topic, so sometimes, we just need to research our topic or show our children how to create or find more details.

Mrs. Peters' Third Grade Blog said...

Chapter 10: This chapter brought a lot of new ideas to my attention. I enjoyed reading and finding that you may not always start with a grabber. Since our last workshop I feel like I really held on to the grabbers. I would love to slowly teach my students all the different ways to begin their writing. Then allow them to explore with each type of beginning. The sound effects are one of my favorite ways to begin writing, but trying to keep my students from always using the sound effects becomes a challenge.

Chapter 11: With endings we always have a problem because students would love to keep going and going. I love surprise endings, but it seems third graders always give it away before they get to the end. When teaching writing in the future I would love to have students experiment and try different kinds of endings with the same story to see which one fits.

Chapter 12: When Fletcher describes the food chain it opens my eyes to the fact that we should put all the little details as well as the big details. We feel like the little details are useless, but in all actuality they are very important. Also, when we write we sometimes forget that we are writing so we can invent details and make things up. Just because I am writing off an experience I have encountered does not mean that I can not make it sound even better by inventing my own little details.

Mrs. Dunston said...

I have been more successful as a writing teacher because of the Grabbers and Take-Away-Endings charts I have posted in my room. I think they give 3rd graders more security in writing. They roll their eyes when I ask them to write, but when I say they can share my Grabbers and Take Away Endings charts, they seem to relax a little bit. We sometimes forget how young they really are!

Shannon Hill said...

I would have to agree with Kristy. I like to come back to my introdution however I go back to every paragraph trying to make it even better. When teaching my students grabber and takeaways, I find it easier to teach the takeway ending. For some reason grabbers are hard for me. I think about it to much or just can't get the hang of it. I love the lessons from Razzle Dazzle Writing. I have used this book in the past. This book really helps you focus on target skills. I took the grabber and takeaway endings and created an anchor chart. I love the fact that we are trying to have a common language with writing. By the time the kids get to 5th grade, they will be very comfortable with the 5 block plan and rubrics.

aljones said...

I agree just like any other subject area we need a common language in teaching writing otherwise we are staring over every year. The trouble I am having with the ending not so much the beginning anymore since the book flood, but the ending I have several students who end the same way in every piece. The students favorite endings are: Now you can see... and From now on I...
I am really trying to encourage the MSU strategy with my student but sometimes when I rely on use of imagination that stresses them out.
I really think that when we write about our content and/or use a story to build from it takes the pressure off of them because they have more background knowledge. I know I am much more comfortable writing about something I know about or have had a personal experience with but at the same time I want to encourage imaginative writing.