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Collaborating on a Class Book: Exploring Before-During-After Sequences
|Grades||K – 2|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Three 50-minute sessions|
Charleston, South Carolina
In this classroom project, students and the teacher produce a class book through a group-writing activity, focusing on a basic before-during-after sequence of events. After discussing what they know about pumpkins, the class carves a jack-o-lantern, pausing at each step to chart their observations on before, during, and after charts. The class then uses their sentences from the chart to write the sequence of events for carving the pumpkin. Finally, the class publishes their work, using one of several publishing options. Though this lesson focuses on the carving of the class jack-o-lantern, the lesson plan could be customized for explorations of other items in the classroom. For instance, as part of a foods unit, you might explore a variety of fruits. For a field trip, you might write about the events before, during, and after your trip.
Virtual Pumpkin: Students can carve a pumpkin virtually at this site.
Pumpkin Carving Sequencer: Students can use this online tool to put the steps for carving a pumpkin in sequence.
As Helen Dale tells us in Co-Authoring in the Classroom, "co-authoring externalizes thinking about writing and makes it explicit" (14). By writing collaboratively, as the class does in this lesson plan, students and teacher think-aloud about the processes that are normally locked away inside the writer's head. Students and teacher talk about why one sentence belongs before another, why certain text structures are appropriate, and even such basic issues as where sentences begin and end.
By participating in observing events, gathering notes, composing a story, illustrating that story, and then organizing the text, students completing this lesson tap the kind of social collaboration that Dale highlights. The class as a whole demonstrates a range of reading and writing skills that can help everyone in the room gain new literacy abilities as well as become more aware of the abilities that they already possess.
Dale, Helen. 1997. Co-Authoring in the Classroom: Creating an Environment for Effective Collaboration. Urbana, IL: NCTE.