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Lesson Plan

Ferocious Fighting Fish: An Ocean Unit Exploring Beginning Word Sounds

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Ferocious Fighting Fish: An Ocean Unit Exploring Beginning Word Sounds

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Carolyn Wilhelm

Carolyn Wilhelm

Maple Grove, Minnesota


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Focus students attention on alliteration, or repeated beginning word sounds, in this unit which explores an ocean theme. Students begin by reading the book Look Who Lives in the Ocean, by Allen Baker, and then sharing what they notice about the words in the story. Then they work as a class to craft a definition of alliteration and record the definition on chart paper. Students continue to expand their knowledge of alliteration by finding examples in classroom books and their own writing and then adding these examples to a class list. Next, they practice revising sentences to include alliteration and then share their revisions with the class. Finally, students compose their own class book to explore the technique in their own writing. The lesson is a natural extension after alphabet books have been introduced, when writing a class book, or to supplement independent writing projects.

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Multigenre Mapper: Students use this online tool to create multigenre, multimodal texts that include a drawing and three written texts. They can name the genres for each section, making the tool flexible for multiple writing activities.

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"Writers notice, listen, observe, and think like writers all the time," and this kind of writerly practice is what we need to have our students do according to Lisa Cleaveland and Katie Wood Ray, in About the Authors: Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers (159). In their model of writing workshop, Cleaveland and Ray ask students, "Did you stand on an author's shoulders to write this? If so, whose?" (173). As they answer, students recognize the crafting techniques of the writers who inspire and influence their own work. In this lesson, students explore the craft of authors who have written books that use the circle-plot technique, and then use these books as framing texts that allow them to "apprentice themselves to writers whose work they admire" (172).

This connection between reading works of others and writing their own texts is important for all writers. As Katie Wood Ray reminds us in her Wondrous Words, "None of the other steps [in workshop writing] are worth the effort if they don't end with writers being able to take the crafting techniques back to their own writing when they need them" (126). Every mini-lesson should end with students envisioning a new possibility for their work, by "stand[ing] on an author's shoulders."

Further Reading

Cleaveland, Lisa and Ray, Katie Wood. 2004. About the Authors: Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Ray, Katie Wood. 1999. Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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