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Teacher Resources by Grade
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|5th - 6th||7th - 8th|
|9th - 10th||11th - 12th|
Weekend News! A Weekly Writing Activity
|Grades||K – 2|
|Lesson Plan Type||Recurring Lesson|
|Estimated Time||One 20- to 40-minute weekly session|
- Make writing connections by recalling what they did over the weekend, analyzing their activities, and choosing an event from their own life to write about
- Apply writing conventions including spelling, capitalization, sentence structure, and punctuation by writing a personal story
- Analyze what makes a strong piece of writing by working collaboratively to create an evaluative checklist
- Evaluate and revise their writing using the class-created checklist as a guide
|1.||Gather students. Ask them to talk about what they did over the weekend, sharing some of your own stories. Thinking back to the example you prepared in advance (see Preparation, Step 3), model how you would think back over your weekend and select one activity or event to write about. For example, you might say:
"If I were going to write about what I did this weekend, what would I choose? I want to write about something I know a lot about and that I enjoyed. Hmmm. I went shopping, I went to the beach, and I went to the movies. I really liked going to the beach. I can write about that."
|2.||Demonstrate how to narrow a topic to encourage students to do the same. For example, you might say, "Let me think about something interesting that happened at the beach. I can write about building a sandcastle with my son." It can also be helpful to show students how to use a timeline of their bigger topic (listing all the events in sequential order and then picking one) or a drawing of a pie to represent their big topic and slicing that topic into smaller slices by thinking of several events and then writing about one piece of the pie.
|3.||Using a transparency or whiteboard, begin drawing a picture as you think aloud. Model how you would sketch your idea while you talk about how this can help you as a writer. For example, you might draw a picture of yourself sitting on the sand and say something like:
"I will draw my picture first so I can get ideas. I'm going to put some details into my picture too. This will help me when I want to add details to my writing."Note: As the year progresses, you may be able to skip this step.
|4.||Ask students to think about their weekend and select one event that they enjoyed, know a lot about, and want to share with their classmates. Younger students might talk to a partner about their weekend and choose one event to sketch. Older students may jot down several ideas (sometimes it helps to do this along a timeline) and select one to write about.
Note: If students are struggling to find a topic to write about, it is often helpful to meet with them one-on-one or in a small group to provide support. Ask them to close their eyes and try to remember the weekend, sharing with you anything that comes to mind. Help them create a list and then have them choose one thing from the list for their weekend news entry. Sometimes it is helpful to share in a small group so that one idea sparks another. Remind students that the events do not need to be spectacular. Some of the best writing is about the most ordinary events.
|5.||Have students sketch the event or activity they decided to write about. (Older students may be able to skip this step later in the year.) Walk around and confer with students about their sketches. Encourage students to tell you all about their sketch or ask questions such as, "Who is that in the picture? Where are you? What are you doing?" As they tell you about their sketch, encourage them to add these details to their drawings.
|6.||Return to your drawing and use it to model the writing process. Begin writing your story, using words from the word wall or word list, thinking aloud about what you are writing, and making sure to include details.
|7.||While you work, offer a 10-minute minilesson that focuses on a skill or strategy your students need (see Preparation, Step 2). For example, if you have observed that students can spell the word wall words, but seem to get stuck when they want to spell words they do not know, you might provide the following lesson on writing unknown words by stretching them out and writing the sounds.
|8.||After the minilesson, engage the class in a short discussion about what they are going to write about for their Weekend News. Leave your own writing on the overhead or board for students to use as a reference. You may find some students copying your writing, and for the first week this is fine. Remember to monitor these students and make sure they use their own words in the next Weekend News writing session.
|9.||As students begin to work, circulate around the room to scope out any student who has not begun to write. A good strategy is to have these students use their sketch to tell you their story. As they talk, encourage them to give you details and to add those details to their drawing. This will help them as they write. Then move them toward writing by giving them some support in how to get started. Paraphrase what they are saying, for example, "So you're telling me that on Saturday you went to the movies with your mom. How can you write that in your Weekend News?" Depending on the student, you may need to give some language to get them started for example, "This Saturday, I went to the movies with my mom. Can you write that?"
|10.||Students will write for approximately 20 minutes (depending on the grade level and time of year). Remind them to check the word wall or word list for help with spelling. Praise students who spell difficult words by stretching out the sounds and let students know that they do not need to spell every word correctly. Give specific praise for all attempts to spell challenging words.
|11.||As students complete their writing, invite them to whisper read to themselves to see if it sounds right and check for language conventions they know (e.g., capitalization, proper spelling of word wall words, and punctuation). Students should revise and edit as needed.
|12.||After students become comfortable with writing (which might be a few weeks), hold a shared writing session with students to create a Weekend News Checklist. Ask students, "What kinds of things do good writers do?" Some of the responses might be:
|13.||Each week after writing, students should self-assess their writing using the Weekend News Checklist the class developed. Each student can use the chart to clearly identify what he or she has done well and what needs improvement. Students can revise their work based on this assessment.
|14.||A very important last step is to have students share their writing with the class. You might consider having students share with partners or with small groups.
- Observe students during the lesson and during conferences. Write anecdotal notes.
- Determine future minilessons by analyzing students’ writing to see what students are doing well and where improvement is needed.
- Have students save their work each week in a portfolio, to show their growth in writing. Use this during parent conferences and as a way to determine individual needs and improvement.
- Use the Weekend News Checklist to assess students’ writing.