Tomorrow we're having our author celebration! Get those papers looking all nice with your best handrwriting and all the changes you made while revising and editing. Try reading it out loud to yourself to get comfortable with it so you'll know just how to read it to our guests tomorrow.
Today at the start of our lesson I suggested that our lives are made up of not only what happens to us but also our responses to what happens to us.
As writers, this means that we pause in our actions and ask, "What was I thinking?" We offer our readers to reveal our thoughts and feelings. This is especially true in the heart of our stories.
Tonight, consider the story you have been writing and what the heart of your story is. Ask yourself, "What was I thinking/feeling?" Write these thoughts and feelings down. Consider clues you could give your reader in the story to reveal your thoughts and feelings. Bring these with you to insert in your story tomorrow.
Today we studied some leads in stories of authors we admire in order to name the things the author did that make these leads really work well. This weekend, do the same thing. Reread the lead in the book you're reading right now, and then reread the leads in some books you love. They can be chapter books, short stories, or picture books.
When you reread these leads, do the same work we did in school today. Notice what the author does in the lead and name it on a sticky note. Then, try writing some leads for the story you have chosen using those things you noticed. Bring these to school so you can talk to your partner about what you did in your lead revisions.
Once we have decided on a seed idea, we need to be like magnets, attracting details that pertain to our story. So tonight, try to collect details that will help you write your personal narrative especially well. If I've decided to write about the day my horse died, I can't go back and see her, but I can spend some time writing about my horse and the way she looked when she walked toward the barn for the last time. I can think of the words my mother said to me to comfort me. Writers reach for specific details that will help them develop their stories. Tonight, collect those details.
Writers, teachers often describe the writing process by saying writers first rehearse for writing (making leads and timelines and plans), then draft, then revise, and then edit and publish their writing.
But when writers describe their writing process, we don't always start by talking about desk work - about entries, leads, or timelines. Instead, writers start with life work - doing things they do everyday as a writer. They might say, "Writing is playing dodge ball as a writer, walking the aisles of the grocery store as a writer, going to McDonalds as a writer. Tonight, practice the part of writing that comes before writing - noticing the world!
On Wednesday we will once again be selecting one of our entries to work on developing further, then revising and editing. So tonight, write, write, write! Gather more entries that would make powerful stories so you will have lots to choose from.
I love that you are beginning to burst with stories, because that means that during writing time, you aren't just thinking up stories, you are selecting the stories you feel will especially work. This weekend, gather a list of possible stories. Then if you ever can't think of something, you can use this list. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Take a topic from your life: your hair, glasses, hobby, a pet, a relative, one part of school, your home. Make a timeline of things that have happened connected to that one time. Then choose one dot off the timeline to write about.
- Start free-writing a list, using a repeating phrase, such as, "I remember..." Just be sure to remember very specific, sensory moments: "I remember the sound of the last bit of milk being sucked from my school milk carton." "I remember putting my head inside my sleeping bag adn trying to warm myself up with my breath."
- Start with a more specific phrase, such as, "At my cousin's, I..." or "Sleep-overs mean..." and then list differeent way to complete it. Then choose one item to write about.
We learned today that one of the ways we can make our writing more powerful is by studying the works of other authors that are the same type of writing we want to produce, and then looking for things that author did that we can do in our own writing. Tonight, look at some personal narratives and write down what that author does to make the writing powerful, thing that you can use when you write your own personal narratives.
If you took home your draft, keep working on your final copy. Remember to use your best handwriting! Be thinking about what you have read of your partner's work and how you may introduce him or her at the Author Celebration tomorrow.
If you took home your draft, keep working on that editing! Otherwise, just do some fun writing this weekend! Write about whatever you want - make it fun for yourself. (Writing should always be fun!) Just remember to use some of the strategies of good writing you have learned.
In a few days we will have our first Author Celebration of the year. You could say that we are approaching a first deadline, then. For me, however, the word deadline is all wrong. When I know I need to hurry and make my writing ready for publication, I feel as if I've been given not a deadline but a lifeline. Tonight is one of your last chances to add more to the heart of your story, so spring to life! In your writer's notepad, take time to try one final, best-in-the-world draft of just the heart of your story.
Take a key moment in the story. Begin by timelining that episode on the page or across your fingers or in your mind. The manner in which you do this doesn't matter, but it does matter that you recall the step-by-step, moment-by-moment sequenc of events. Now recall how the story started. Where, exactly, were you and what, exactly, were you doing? Make a movie in your mind and record the start - write what you said, what you did. Then continue writing the movie as it spins out in your mind, but this time, remember to use words that access the internal as well as the external story. Write, I thought... I noticed... I rememberd... I wanted to say...
Bring this to school and you will have a chance to insert it in your draft.
Take a piece of your writing, something you have done already, and try to elaborate on it using the strategies we learned today like adding dialogue, descriptions, actions, thoughts, and setting. Remember, if your paragraph is only one or two sentences, you need to elaborate!
Today you learned that paragraphing matters! Grouping your story into paragraphs will make your writing more organized and easier to read. I gave you the words of a picture book with the paragraphs taken out. Read through it and put boxes around where you think the paragraphs should go. Jot a note beside the boxes to say why you think that.
This year we are going to travel on a journey through language, and our souvenirs will be words. We are going to collect words like a tourist collects postcards in order to remember all our new experiences with language.
Listen this evening for words that catch your attention. Listen for them in conversations, and look for them when you are reading. Jot them down in your notepad and bring them in tomorrow to put on the Wonderful Words wall! And try to use them, too! From this day on, collect words that seem to be just right for saying hard-to-say things, words that are somehow remarkable. Collect them, and we will try to use them when we talk and when we write.
Tonight, try creating a small timeline for a story you are working on or a new story. Use this to jog memories of the sequence of your story. Storytell this new piece of writing in preparation for drafting it tomorrow.
Remember, the story of my frisbee game will not sound like this:, "Levi's text, changed clothes, met with friends..." When you storytell or write a draft from your timeline, don't just read the labels off the dots! Instead, look at a dot, and then tell a whole story that goes with that one dot. The first dots of the frisbee timeline were, "text from Levi," and, "changed clothes." The story that goes with those dots may start like this:
After school, I got a text from Levi. "Ultimate frisbee at 6:30, same place as usual." At first I thought I wouldn't go, but then decided I wanted to play, so I threw on my basketball shorts
and a t-shirt, and ran out the door.
Remember that writers storytell their stories several times, to themselves and to others, so you need to do that too! Use the dots as a guide, but say a whole lot for each dot. Add to the story in ways that aren't on the timeline. Make your stories sound like the stores we read in books - and tomorrow, you'll have the chance to write them on the page.
You just got your writing notepads today! You can take these home every day - take them everywhere you go if you want to, that way you are ready to jot down the little moments you could write about. Have fun tonight seeing all the things you could write about - playing catch in your yard, or reading a book with your little brother or sister. Maybe practice storytelling the story you are working on in class to a family member or friend, the way I did today in class. (You can even act it out if you want!)
I realize I am posting this a day late - sorry! But as these are not for a grade, it really doesn't matter what day you do them! On Friday you learned that you are the boss of your writing. You decide what you need to work on - whether to continue working on a current story or to begin writing a new one. This weekend, think of what you think you need to work on the most in your writing and spend a little time doing something to help you improve in that area.
Today we learned that writers spend a lot of time on their endings, writing them in a way that the reader will feel something at the end of the story. Just as we did with our leads, or beginnings, of our stories, we can look at good writing and see what those authors have done to create an ending that will have a lasting impression on the reader. Tonight, read the endings to some of your favorite stories and books. Examine what those authors have done that makes them so good that you could use in your stories.
All writers need a place to call their own. Tonight, look for a place you might be able to make into a writing place. It doesn't need to be big, or even your own space. It can be a corner of a room or a table that travels. Find a spot where you can think and write without being easily distracted. Try a few different spots and see which one you like best and make it your own by adding things that mean something to you. Writers often gather things around like our favorite books, pictures, objects, inspirational quotes, poems, artwork, music; anything that makes us comfortable. And don't forget to have the tools you will need - pens, a notebook, and paper!
Today we worked again on the leads (beginnings) to our stories. Tomorrow we will begin drafting the rest of our stories. So, tonight, continue to read like a writer. What else can you find the authors you love doing that you could try in your stories?
One famous author, Cynthia Rylant, once said, "I learned how to write from writers. I didn't know any personally. But I read." And Gerald Lund, another author, said "I learned to write from the best writing teachers in the world - books." They are not alone. The writers we love will all agree that they learned to write from authors. So this weekend, spend some time reading like a writer, noticing not only what authors say, but how they say it. Bookmark places where an author has used a technique you would like to try. Especially notice leads (beginnings of stories).
This evening, practice telling your story again to yourself, and tell it to someone else like your mom or dad or a friend. And think about your story too. Stories get much better when you play them over in your mind, trying to tell them in a way that really affects listeners and readers. Do you want to make people shiver with worry, laugh aloud, wince? Try telling your story so that you make listeners feel whatever it is you want them to feel.
You know that in order to write a story, writers picture an event in their mind like a movie, recalling what came first and then next and then next. Tonight, practice telling a story to someone, using a step-by-step format to sequence your story.
Today you learned about your job in a writing conference. Tonight, rehearse for that job. Imagine that a teacher pulls a chair up to you. Think about your writing so you'll be ready to talk about it with the teacher. Remember, these are the questions a teacher is likely to ask you, so be ready to answer them:
- What are you working on as a writer?
- What are you trying to do as a writer?
- What will you do today in your writing?
"Poems hide. In the bottom of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them." - Naomi Nye
Stories are like poems; they hide. Tonight, pay attention to the stories that hide in your life. Think about the places in your life that hold stories, and come to school tomorrow ready to write those stories! You should find yourself living differently because you write. Be a magnet, pulling story ideas in to you.