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Blurring Genre: Exploring Fiction and Nonfiction with Diary of a Worm
|Grades||6 – 8|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Five 50-minute Sessions|
- identify factual material in fiction writing.
- identify important information from sources.
- use information to write in a variety of text types.
- work with others to write collaboratively.
- use the writing process to produce effective, polished writing.
- Introduce the activity by asking students to discuss briefly the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Student responses will largely focus on nonfiction being factual or "true," while fiction is made up, imaginative, or "untrue."
- Affirm student responses of this sort, and tell them you want to develop their understanding of fiction and nonfiction by reading the books Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, and Diary of a Fly.
- Ask students to take out pencils and paper and have them jot down everything they learn about worms, spiders, and flies as you read.
- Ask students to return to their initial observations about fiction and nonfiction. Follow up that discussion by asking students to share the factual information they found in the books.
- Discuss their answers and make a complete list of "facts" on the board. Discuss the strategies Cronin uses to weave these facts into the different diary entries of the different characters.
- Explain that the class will have the chance to explore the kind of writing that uses facts in fiction by writing a book together modeled on the Diary of. . . books. Have students make suggestions for a topic (animals work well for this activity) and vote on one for the class focus.
- Distribute the KWL chart and have students complete the "What I Know" section on the specific animal (or other topic) the class decided on.
- Have students get out their KWL charts and ask them to write questions they are interested in learning about the chosen topic in the "What I Want to Know" portion of the chart.
- If appropriate, provide a short lesson on note taking and summarizing skills. Help students understand that they do not take notes on information that they already know (and have written in their KWL chart).
- Provide time for students to conduct inquiry, either from print texts or Internet sites, taking notes in the "What I Learned" section of the KWL handout. Remind students to keep track of their sources. Although this assignment does not require a formal bibliography or Works Cited page, students will be expected to submit evidence of their sources with the final project.
- Students may wish to use the ReadWriteThink NoteTaker at this point.
- Distribute and discuss the Diary Book Rubric and answer any questions students have about the expectations for the diary entries.
- Have students meet in groups to create collaborative lists of facts on the chosen topic. Then, as a class, compile the small groups' lists into a class list of at least 25 facts the students can use in their writing. Point out that it is not necessary for all 25 facts to appear in the final project.
- Discuss genre options for the creative student texts. Return to the mentor texts and guide students to notice that, although the books are (overall) a diary, entries take several different forms: lists, reflections, retelling of events, postcards, telling dreams, and so forth.
- Lead a discussion of the qualities of each of the kinds of writing within the diary genre. Also have them describe the voice of the writing and have them consider such a voice as an option for their own writing.
- In small groups, have students decide on three textual patterns from the ones the class listed (lists, reflections, dreams, and so forth) and begin drafting the diary story, incorporating the researched information into their entries.
- Give student groups time to continue drafting their diary.
- When students are ready, have them trade drafts of their three entries with another group.
- Using the Peer Evaluation Guide, have them provide feedback for revision.
- As necessary, adapt elements from the following ReadWriteThink lessons to support writers in the revision process: More Than One Way to Create Vivid Verbs; Once Upon a Fairy Tale: Teaching Revision as a Concept; Reciprocal Revision: Making Peer Feedback Meaningful; or Shared Spelling Strategies.
- When students have received feedback, have them revise and edit their entries.
- Using the Multigenre Mapper, have students type in their entries and add a graphic before submitting the pages.
- Have students reflect on the process: what did they learn about the topic, about writing, and about writing with others? What specifically did they learn about using facts in writing? Discuss these questions as a group, or have students complete the Diary Book Reflection Questions. Use their reflections to guide future instruction and class discussion.
- Have students continue the production process by designing book elements: cover, author information, resource pages, dedication pages, and jacket summary. Use the ReadWriteThink Book Cover Creator to faciliatate this process, which can continue to develop their sense of genre.
- Bind the books and donate them to an elementary classroom, sponsoring a reading of the stories as part of the gift.
- Additional teaching ideas for Diary of a Worm can be found at Then What Happened? from Scholastic.
- Use the Diary Book Rubric to assess students’ writing and collaborative efforts.
- Consider student responses to the Diary Book Reflection Questions in their final assessment.