Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writing Realistic Fiction

At first, I really thought this was going to be a HARD genre to teach, but actually, it's turned out pretty simple....and fun! I started by reading Lucy Calkins' #4 book (from her series on Writer's Workshop) "Writing Fiction: Big Dreams, Tall Ambitions". Now, let me warn you, Lucy is a very wordy writer. But then, again, so am I, so it was an easy read for me! My colleague and I already had plans for this week before I read the book, so we had to back-track a little (my mistake!).

The BIG concept: students need a good writer's notebook FULL, and I mean FULL of writing ideas. This is not just the usual, "Things I know a lot about", or "Things that are DEAR to my Heart". I mean what serious, REAL writer's do. They write down EVERY little bitty thing they notice, hear, experience...

I started by having my students think about their weekend and start a list of"Things I "noticed" over the weekend: " (I had a sample list on the board for them as well: 1. an ambulance parked outside Wal Mart 2. The man next door plays football every night with his son. 3. The dog across the street barked all night long.)

I then proceeded to model my thinking... I looked through my own journal and came across a page that was full of places I'd moved to. I spoke my thinking outloud and demonstrated my writing on the Smartboard.

"Hmmm...I've moved a lot. That must be a subject that means a lot to me. I could write about several places I've moved to. I think I'll focus on my move to Katy. (Writing on the board) I moved to Katy over the summer from a small town. My  neighborhood is pretty big with large houses all around. I see a lot of kids outside playing. I wonder if my own children will be able to make friends. (Talking now..) Hmmm. I  think I could write a realistic story about this. I could name my main character, Grace. So it could go something like this:

(Writing again) Grace moves to Katy from a small town. She sees kids playing outside her window as she's unpacking boxes in her room. She wonders if she will ever be able to make new friends in this small town.

My students become excited and join in on the story line....

"Maybe she rides her bike later and meets some of the kids." or, "Maybe she's really shy and has to overcome her shyness to be able to meet new people." Both good points and I validate their thinking by jotting down their ideas with my ideas.

This continues as we also come up with ideas for realistic stories for the examples I've listed on the board: "I saw an abulance parked outside Wal Mart. Can we create a realistic fiction story with this idea??" The students talk in small groups and come up with some CRAZY stories!

Then the students find an "I noticed..."idea from their own writer's notebook. They extend their thinking as I did, and then create a character name and problem.

This is extended into today lesson. We created a foldable that resembles the story mountain we have used previously (Character, setting, problem, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, conclusion). Wow!!! My kiddos did an AWESOME job with this! I was so impressed! We have our stories planned out and ready to start our roughdrafts tomorrow!

Of course, MODELING is the KEY here! Tomorrow, I will model my roughdraft and they will begin theirs. I can't wait to see how these stories turn out!



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