Yesterday, I shared my long range plans for assessment and the weekly schedule for my blended workshop. Today, we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty. (I will also be mailing out a lesson plan as part of my Five Days of Workshop Freebies, so be sure to sign up for the mailing list.)
Every Monday, I will be sharing a weekly goal with my students. During the week, I will choose titles for book talks that demonstrate the skill we are working on and all my mini-lessons will focus on it as well. I will do quickie conferences all week to see what students already know; then, my one-on-one conferences the next week will focus on assessing the students understanding of the topic and attainment of the skill.
Let’s look at that a little more closely. One of my first weeks of workshop will focus on word choice, how writers use diction for effect. I will book talk two different novels that demonstrate how authors do this. One of these books will be Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. As I give a synopsis of the book, I’ll read some quotes and point out how the wording is important. For example, I will project this sentence, and ask them which word(s) are important in creating meaning in this sentence:
“I was trying so hard to find the single pivotal moment that set my life on its path. The moment that answered the question, ‘How did I get here?'”
If they don’t point it out themselves, I’ll ask them about the word pivotal and how it affects the sentence. We will also talk about the use of the word path and why Yoon would choose to use it. Then, we will talk about Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, and I’ll project this passage:
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.”
We will discuss why she chose to say that people “like us” become hashtags and why she chose the word maybe. With both quotes, we will spend some time discussing how a different word would change the context of the sentence. Then, I’ll ask them to look in the novels they are reading for places where the author used words deliberately.
Next, I’ll do a quick lesson on tired words and active verbs and instruct the students to look for places where authors used strong verbs and avoided a tired word like good, very, nice, etc. After they have time to do so, I’ll have them share what they discovered with a partner. Then, I’ll give them some exercises that allow them to practice using strong words. After they’ve completed the exercise, they will get to work on their own writing. During this time, I’ll circulate with my clipboard and ask kids to show me the sentences they identified in their novels. We’ll wrap up with a sharing session.
We’ll repeat this process on Tuesday with different texts and more skill building exercises on tone and connotation. Wednesday will be similar, but I will use non-fiction texts to illustrate how these authors also use their words effectively. During silent reading time, students will select non-fiction texts from my collection (or on their e-devices), and use those as mentor texts during mini-lesson time.
Thursdays and Fridays will be devoted to the students having more time to read and write. They will get a longer period of time to read, then I will be using stations to get them to focus on the writing process.
If you’re looking for some help with all of this, check out the following products:
Word Choice Lessons — Chock full of lessons to teach students about the power of words.
Short Mentor Texts – Sentences and short passages that ask students to note and mimic the techniques used by the writers.
Creative Writing Assignments — link YA novels with writing assignments that focus on narrative techniques.
Writer’s Workshop Learning Stations and Reader’s Workshop Stations–Focus students as they work on their reading and writing.