One of the most challenging tasks of teaching students to write a particular genre is instilling a passion for it. A majority of students find writing tedious, time-consuming, and just plain old boring. Teachers too often dread marking work of these ‘reluctant’ writers. We often go on about drilling students on the different stages of the writing process, adhering to the structure of the required genre, and stressing on the importance of using figurative language devices in a piece of writing, but how often do we actually painstakingly model each phase or each device that intricately makes up the coherent whole?
When I started designing my units on the Narrative, Opinion, and Non-fiction (Biography) genre, I envisioned the entire process from start to finish, and being an avid user of interactive notebooks, set about designing lessons accordingly. I designed from a student writer’s perspective, how would I begin? where would I start? So I decided to write mentor texts and have most of my lessons revolve around them.
The personal narrative entitled ‘The Storm’ had all the story elements of a personal/fictional narrative, and notebook templates featured destructuring the parts of a narrative so students could note structural devices.
The different ways to begin:
The mini lessons on dialogue, transition words, and figurative language devices equipped students with necessary tools to write effectively.
The ways to conclude:
And finally students applied key writing skills acquired in these lessons to write a first draft on a given prompt in a flip book-style notebook interactive.
Students self-edited and peer edited using rubrics. A teacher marking rubric was used to assess their writing pieces.
With the Opinion Writing genre, interactive notebook lessons revolved around color coded parts of persuasive paragraphs in the Introduction, Body, and Conclusion of a written sample. Students used checklists to edit and peer-edit and have their writing pieces assessed by the teacher via a Teacher Assessment rubric.
Lessons on writing a Biography detailed documenting information gained through research in a flipbook. The flipbook sections featured each stage of the writing process and guided students to respond accordingly.
Notebook templates outlined the structural devices of a Biography.