One of the most difficult things about reading students writing is there never seems to be enough detail or explanation. The tools for writing a very specific in Writing Power and the students get a chance to practice them lots. There are ten specific lessons on the tools in Writing Power by Adrienne Gear.
Adding details was a lesson the students struggled with, especially my weaker writers, as they tend to just give the basics. My weaker writers would write sentences like:
I love snow. This is a very general statement and as a reader I want to know why my student loves or doesn’t love snow. I guided my students during this lesson asking them questions as to why they love something and then I got them to write the answers down. There was a lot of explanation on robot writing and fluent writing. I know have students who are starting to add more detail in their writing than they did before. There is still a lot of work to do though to get the students writing to become more fluent when a reader reads it.
Tool Using Similes
Students use similes all the time when they are comparing everyday items or issues in their speaking; however it is to get the students to become aware of using similes as a tool in writing. It helps when a picture book is used, which has lots of similes. For example, Night Noises by Patricia McLaughlin has used in her book. Students can see how writers use similes to invite readers to visualize or connect. During this mini lesson students write their own similes which can be used in future writings. The similes had to be original. This is when I introduced the term cliche.
Tool Anchor Lines
Anchor lines are used in walking stories, not climbing stories. These lines are which hold an authors writing together. Again I used the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. There are several pictures books which have anchor lines and I suggest if you were to teach this to use more than one book, so students have a better handle on using anchor lines in their writing. I only read one book and it didn’t go over well, when I teach this concept again, I would use at least 3 books.
Tool Six Senses
Students are very familar with the 5 senses, but the sixth sense was knew to them this year. The sixth sense is feelings. During this lesson students brainstormed in a carousel activity (Project CRISS), words to describe each feeling. They then recorded the words down in a chart in their writing notebooks, so they can refer back to them in later lessons. The lesson went well and the students really enjoyed the movement of the brainstorming activity. I would definitly use the carousel activity again for brainstorming in other classes.
Student Writing attempting to use Six senses
The coldest and dangerous season is winter. When I’m outside, all I can s ee is white and kids on the back of a skidoo. I walked into the house, all I could smell was grandma’s homemade cinnamon buns, but all I could hear was the wicked wind. When I was outside, I stuck my tongue out and a snowflake melted in my mouth. The first snow day, I was so excited. My mom said, “I have a cinnamon bun for you.” Outside all I did was make a snowman, a fort and a snow angel. When I went back outside, me and my dad went skidooing. It was awesome. I touched the snow. It felt like a frozen ice cube.
In the student writing there needs to be some editing and revising to make the paragraph more fluent, but the student has a great start to using the senses to describe a Saskatchewan winter.
For this lesson I used was Black Cat to explain voice. Voice tends to be a difficult concept for grade 5/6 students as they write in their voice majority of the time. They found it difficult to give an animal a voice or a character a voice, which wasn’t their’s. I would need to spend more time working on this as we work through the writing lessons. If anyone has any ideas on how to get middle years students to create a voice in their writing, I would appreciate the ideas.
Tool Triple-Scoop Words
The students learned about word choice and making their writing more colourful using different words which would get the same message accross. There are several books which highlight adjectives, and adverbs and I especially like Geronimoe Stilton series and The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter for this lesson. The students learned to use thesaurus and dictionaries to help replace single scoop words with triple scoop words. Your probable wondering what a Triple Scoop and Single Scoop word is. A Single Scoop word are words like sad, happy, mad, good, etc. A triple scoop word are words like devasted, depressed, furious, livid, fantastic and amazing. My students are know acknowleding triple scoop words as they are writing. I remember in class the other day as they were working on connecting to a friend assignment. I had a student ask what stupefied was as he knew it was a triple scoop word. My response was how about if we look it up in the dictionary. He found out the word was a replacement for astonish or overwhlem with amazment. I enjoy seeing my students learn new words they can add to their vocabulary and writing.
Tool Writing in Third Person
Hard concept for students to understand, but when I put it in terms of it is telling a story like your watching a movie, it helped. We then compared third person to first person. I had the students practice writing sentences in first person and then switched those sentences to third person. The activity of switching point of view helped them understand how to put it into their writing. I can know ask them to write a paragraph or story in third person and most of the students are able to do it without reminding of what third person is.
Giving an object which is not living a human quality. After some examples students were able to write sentences using personification, quite easily. I still have some students who ask what personificiation is as it is not used in their writing on an every day basis. It is my hope as we work through our writing and through conferences the students tool of personification will become automatic. Poetry is a great tool to use when talking about personification. I would use poetry, so students can get a better idea of how it is used in writing.
Tool First Impression
Trying to get the students to write a good introduction sentence. One that grabs the readers attention and want to read it. Students need lots of examples of the first impression techniques. Start with a problem, with dialogue, a statement of fact, with a question, action or sound. I’m focusing on these techniques as they work on speaking and giving a speech. It is just like writing a story. It is my hope by the end of the year students are starting to use the first impression techniques.
I find students love to use dialogue in their stories, but they do not use dialogue properly. This lesson focuses on dialogue and the rules. I had the students practice writing dialogue and using the rules. Majority of my students can write dialogue, it is a matter of writing it correctly in their stories.
These tools are integrated throughout the rest of the lessons.