Grade: 1-2
Subject: 4 Blocks

#1115. early mini lessons

4 Blocks, level: Elementary
Posted Fri Jun 25 16:14:55 PDT 1999 by deb (
coloma, south haven MI USA
Materials Required: paper, pencils, patience
Activity Time: varies
Concepts Taught: writing workshop

Rubric Area: Content and Ideas
1. Writing Workshop mini lesson teacher modeling writing for the whole class. We decide on a topic. Teacher begins recording on chart paper the sentences as they say them. (It is important to for them to see that what is said is what I write and what I write is what they said.) As I am writing I talk. For example, "sentences begin with a capital". Teacher should actually sound out words so kids hear what is being said. Teacher should say, "A finger space goes between words." Once again explaining what a word is. Teachers need to say, "At the sentence you put a period." She should be explaining again that the end of a sentence is not necessarily at the end of the line. Then the class reads the story whole group as the teacher points to the words.

2. Writing workshop mini lesson teacher modeling how to write a story. This mini lessons should be done many many MANY many times. Tell the children that today during the writing workshop you will show them how to write a story. Explain that they have a job to do while you are writing your story: it will be their job to use their eyes, their ears, and their brains. They are to use their eyes to watch everything you do. They are to use their ears to listen to everything you say. They are to use their brains to remember what they see and hear so they will know how to write a story.

First, talk about your story. What are some things that I know about that I could write a story about?
I could write a story about...
I think I'll write a story about...
Where will my story take place?
Who will be in my story?
What will the problem be?
How will I solve the problem?
What words will start my story?

Second, write your story using the chalkboard, chart paper, an overhead projector. Make some or all of the following mistakes:
omit some words
omit some capital letters
omit some punctuation marks
use some incorrect words

Reread your story often while writing. Add any missing words. Correct incorrect words by putting one line through the incorrect word. Correct spelling and punctuation errors. When you are finished, have the children tell everything they saw and heard you do while you were writing your story. Record their responses on a chart. Post the chart for future reference.

3. Writing workshop mini lesson modeling how to write. Before each writing session, we did a daily news or some kind of modeled or interactive writing. This helped the children have clear expectations of what to do. I modeled what to do when I came to a word that was tricky ('stretch" the word to hear the sounds, clap long lords to hear the "chunks"), how to find words on the word wall, etc. Included in that modeling session, I did a quick McCracken lesson before I began writing. I gave them the tools they needed to get started. We started the year writing diary type journals because recalling daily events was easier for the kids than to make up a story. This way they could concentrate on writing words. Once they felt more comfortable in their writing (taking risks through invented spelling and a bank of high frequency known words including using the word wall) I began to model other types of writing. I would model for a long time before I would require them to begin writing different genres but they were always allowed to start earlier if they wished. Most did.

4. Writing Workshop mini lesson think-alouds
Students should be writing with the teacher modeling all of the following possibilities: Using a picture to guide writing, poems, letters, rhymes, class books that link with literature, individual books, cartoons.

Rubric Area: Content and Ideas Continued...
5. Writing Workshop mini lesson how to map a topic.
We choose a topic together and talk about how everything relates to that topic. This mini lesson needs to be completed numerous times in the beginning of the year and repeated once a week all year. Teachers may model a variety of ways to brainstorm include ready made graphic organizers, making a list, a semantic map, the brainstorm page of boxes, and others.

6. Writing Workshop mini lesson journals.
The class with the teacher guiding brainstorms topics. They chose one and begin to write. Use a date stamp to record dates to document their progress in the writing process progress. The journals help to show where each child is at in their writing and documents improvements. At the beginning it is not uncommon for kids to cry and say they don't know how to write. Encourage them to get thoughts down on paper and REMEMBER you must be doing teacher modeling how to write with the whole class.

7. Writing Workshop mini lesson brainstorming using a picture.
Pass around a picture. We discuss the picture and then teacher writes a story using think-aloud technique. Teacher writes a story modeling writing about the picture. Erase the story and have the class work together to write a story. Write down exactly what they say. Then read it aloud pointing to the words. Discuss if it sticks to the topic. Eventually as the class stays on topic; individuals begin mapping a topic. Teachers should go over and over the modeling. Keep checking the children's writing to see that they are on topic only.

8. Writing Workshop mini lesson kids pick their own topic to brainstorm.
While the students are writing, the teacher walks around watching that the kids are writing on topic. If a child is not on topic, then provide the scaffolding for the child to succeed. Model for that one child like you did for the whole groups.

9. Writing Workshop mini lesson modeling taking mapping and writing a story.
Once the kids are keeping their brainstorm paper on topic, teacher should begin modeling mapping and writing a story, while checking off the mapping words. After several teacher think-alouds the kids begin to map and write stories themselves.

10. Writing workshop mini lesson Using the senses.
Get the five senses involved. Ask probing questions that stir memories. Christmas was fun. How was it fun. Who came? What did they wear? Think about Christmas. Could you hear the sleigh bells jingling. How did Christmas dinner taste? Was the turkey juicy or dry? Did your aunt's special pudding make you gag? How did it taste? How did it smell? What sounds did you hear? What did you see? Was the present as big as a tree? Was the dinner disgusting or the best turkey you've ever eaten?

11. Writing workshop mini lesson First grade awareness of beginnings and endings.
Fostering an awareness of good beginnings and endings may be developmentally more realistic, and therefore more effective, than demanding revision from primary students. A first grade teacher I know found that out the hard way. She was continually frustrated because her students could spot good leads, as well as extraneous words in their endings, but still opposed revising their work to bring them out. "I finally realized how hard physically it is for some of these kids to grip that pencil and put any words on the page-of course they refused to cut!" she explained. After much thought, she decided to have students underline or star strong potential leads and endings in their writing, using bright colored markers; she didn't require them to begin or close their pieces with those words.

12. Writing Workshop mini lesson endings.
When kids write a story that just stops in the middle the teacher encourages the child to add on an ending.

Rubric Area: Mechanics / Conventions
1. Writing Workshop mini lesson editing.
The kids check for spelling and punctuation themselves first then with a partner. At this time they 're responsible for having what they have been taught done correctly. Some teachers make an "I CAN DO"list for each individual student. (see examples at end of packet).

2. Writing Workshop mini lesson edit in conference in first grade.
It is great that you are doing writer's workshop with your first-graders. The question of editing is a big one, at this level. We need to remember that if students are going to "publish" a piece to be posted in a hallway (or the like), the writing should be as correct as possible. The general public does not understand the developmental process of writing at an early emergent and emergent level. When I work with students at these levels, I edit with the child sitting right next to me. I decide which errors need to be
discussed with each child. All the children have different needs. I only discuss one or two things with a child on a piece. I have the children write in pencil. They skip spaces so we have room to edit on the same paper. If I were to discuss all the errors with each child, I would have two problems: first, the child would be overwhelmed; and second, it would take forever. I find that selecting one or two things usually helps to move the child along. I focus on putting a period (or whatever) at the end of sentences and on starting sentences with capital letters. If the child has that, I begin to work on other things. I will repair spelling and grammar errors for the children. As the year moves on, I begin to talk about peer editing and we move to that. The children work with a partner to help fix their piece before they bring it to me. Then when I edit, I have both of the children there--thus getting two birds with one stone. The issue of copying work over is a major one. Children seem to hate it. I do require this once in a while because I want them to take something all the way through the writing process. I also want them to improve their handwriting. Most often, I get volunteers to input the stories on a computer before we post them or put them into notebooks for others to read. We keep the rough drafts in a portfolio so the children can see growth over time. They make illustrations to go with their stories before posting them in the hall.

3. Writing Workshop mini lesson Words that the child is accountable for
In the writing folder, there is a paper with the heading, "Words I know". Once a child has demonstrated consistently the correct spelling of a word, it is added to his words I know sheet. If the child writes a words I know word wrong, he is held accountable to fix it. Classroom word walls may provide other words that the child can be held accountable for.

4. Writing Workshop mini lesson I am learning to and I can!
To help assist teachers in keeping track of the stars and wishes that each child has, there is a paper in the writing folder with the labels, "I am learning" and "I can!" When the child does something consistently, the teacher records the date under the "I can!"

Rubric Area: Style
1. Writing workshop mini lesson Language Experience Story.
After a field trip, the teacher gathers the children around chart paper. They write about their common experience.

2. Writing workshop mini lesson Letters after field trip.
After a field trip students can reflect on what they've learned. The kids will have a hands on experience. They will discuss what they've experienced, including questions and discussions about the field trip.

3. Writing workshop mini lesson Developing Idea Charts.
Each question should be on its own chart. Each chart needs to be developed on different days.

What Can Stories Be About? Teacher could say, "I could write a story about a zoo because I have been there." Students will be encouraged to share places they have been." Suggestions: soccer game, vacation, visiting Grandma, birthday party, pet, school, going to a friend's house.

Who or What Can Stories Be About? Read a story. Who is in the story? Who is in (name another book you've read the class before today)? As they name characters, the teacher should point out the generic name (child says: Stuart Little; teacher writes: mouse). Suggestions: princess, ghost, teacher, birthday party, dog, parents, children.

Where Can Stories Take Place? Teacher asks, "What is a setting?" Read a story. Ask the student to identify where and when the story took place. Then brainstorm other settings that a story could take place in. You could hold up books and ask them, "Where is this story?" "What about this one?" Suggestions: store, school, home, castle, cave, museum, fire station.

What Kinds of Problems Can Be Found in Stories? Read a story. What is the problem? Make a list of problems the class has experienced. You can include problems that no one has experienced. Suggestions: getting lost, losing something, being scared, getting hurt, getting angry, being wrongly accused.

How Can Stories Begin? Teacher should read the beginnings of several books. Reread as necessary. Have the students look for beginnings in the books in your classroom.

4. Writing Workshop mini lesson SPIN A STORY
*****Teacher has 6 spinners.

Time Animals Characters Setting Feelings Weather
Monday bat child street mean snowy
morning bee magician beach sad windy
today dragon cowboy house sleepy cloudy
night bird astronaut forest hungry foggy
200 years dog king island happy sunny
October cat Indian airplane angry hot
2001 A.D. horse pirate ship stupid cold
afternoon lion parent park scared rainy

*****The child spins each spinner, records the words on his/her brainstorm paper and then writes a story incorporating each word into the story. The spinners give the children the key words. The storyline is up to them.

Rubric Area: Style continued...
5. Writing Workshop mini lesson Adding Description with 5Ws and more.
First the class read a nonfiction book. Then the students offered sentences about the main ideas. The teacher lists these on chart paper writing big enough so the children can see the words. Teacher doesn't correct grammar or ideas. Then the teacher cuts apart the story into sentences and tapes them in sequence on board so writing can be added under the headings. Then teacher rereads their story and asking 5W questions, encouraging details. The teacher guides them to add more details. This needs to be modeled over and over and over.

First Draft:
Firemen put out fires on houses.
They save animals.
They have a firedog called Dalmatian.
They have a red fire truck.
They have a siren on the top.
They have a firehouse.

Second Draft:
Firemen are always ready to help. Firemen put out fires on houses. The fire is very hot and smokey. They feel hot and sweaty. They save animals that can't get out of the fire. People love their pets. They have a firedog called Dalmatian that have really good noses and ears. Sometimes the dog finds kids in a fire. They have a red or yellow fire truck. On the truck there are ladders, hoses, tools, and everything else they need to put out a fire. They have a siren on the top of the truck, which makes lots of noise so people can hear them coming and get out of the way. Firemen have yellow and red suits that are fireproof. They have masks to help them breathe. They have a firehouse where they eat and sleep for two days at a time so they are ready for the fire. Firemen are our heros! Firemen put out fires on houses. They save animals. They have a firedog called Dalmatian. They have a red fire truck. They have a siren on the top. They have a firehouse.

6. Writing Workshop mini lessons making writing experiences authentic.
Write a letter to the principal telling him that they want a better lunch selection. (or tell him/her that he/she is doing a great job). Once my kids were a little more confident in their writing, I would allow them to use journal time to write important notes. (For example, if their ball went on the roof at recess they could write a note to the janitor. Our janitor LOVED this and we always got our balls back first.) Or if there was a problem/argument at recess..... I would tell them to write it down so they wouldn't forget and I would solve the problem when I had both sides in writing...... etc. When I taught 2nd grade (though you could easily adjust this to 1st as the kids get more proficient) I would have the kids write a letter to their parents every Friday telling them of what we had done all week. the parents loved this!

7. Writing Workshop mini lesson Story Starter.
Occasionally kids will benefit from being given several story starters from which to choose one to write about. Some teachers have ideas listed on sheets of paper. Other teachers have ideas listed on laminated shapes and hanging on a metal ring. The idea is to help the students brainstorm and think of new ideas to write about. This should not be the only way you encourage kids to write.

I had to make up a new ice cream flavor.
Take a Big Lick: Pick an ice cream cone and write a delicious story!
The cones are all gone. What shall I use?
I dreamed I worked in an ice cream factory.
We opened the shop door and all the ice cream was gone!
A strange smell was coming through the ice cream store.
As I reached for my ice cream, my money had disappeared.
The first lick was good, but then I found...

Rubric Area: Style continued...
8. Writing workshop mini lesson frame sentences part one.
The teacher asks a question then records on the chart paper or sentence strips all the children's answers. It is important that the teacher writes large enough so the children can participate in a shared reading of the answers. Some example questions:
What can you see?
I see
I see
I see
I see
I see
I see

What can you do?
I can

What goes up?
A _________ goes up.

What can your legs do?
Legs can

Teachers leads the children in a discovery time by asking them questions. How does each sentence begin? Are the sentences the same in any way? Where? Where does it say, "My legs can pedal my bike." Using picture cards to assist the students, they can begin rereading the sentences in a pocket chart. The children could then write their word on the line of a framed sentence and draw a picture to go with it. The pictures with the framed sentences could be made into a class book.

9. Writing workshop frame sentences part two.
First do the kindergarten frame sentence mini lesson. Then extend it. Write one of the "I can" statements on a sentence strip. If the sentence reads, "I can walk" then the following is how to extend it.

A ______ can walk.
A ______ can walk.
A ______ can walk.
But a _____ can't walk.

Using pictures and/or words, generate a yes pile and a no pile. Have the students write their own verse.

Rubric Area: Organization
1. Writing Workshop mini lesson expanding "I like".
Children pick a favorite sentence from a story and expand on that one sentence.
For example, a child writes a story.
I like my mom.
I like my dad.
I like my dog.
I like my friend.

Then the teacher has the child pick one sentence to write another story from. Child picks, "I like mydog." The child brainstorms different things about a dog: bark had since a puppy
brown fetches

Rubric Area: Organization continued...
2. Writing Workshop mini lesson beginning, middle, end in first grade.
The first step of this mini lesson is to model it several times with your class. Discuss how a beginning is telling your reader what you are writing about; middle is your mapping; and end would retell the beginning with a feeling of excitement or strong emotion.

3. Writing Workshop mini lesson create blank 3 page booklets.
To provide the structure many early writers need, add a front and back of construction paper to three pages of paper stapled together. Parent volunteers or handy kids can staple them together for you. The student must write a short story with a beginning(page 1) middle (page ) and end(page 3). One suggestion is to give each child a sticker as a brainstorming tool.

4. Writing workshop mini lesson sentence structure (telling sentences)
OWL (observation, wonderings, links to child's life) Read a book, answer each question, write sentences about the book. For example, complete this activity using the book,

The Frog Prince.
Step 1: Children sit in a circle.
Step 2: Read book to the class.
Step 3: Use as many copies of the book that you have access to.
Step 4: Pass the book around the circle.
Step 5: Have each child look at the book and say a sentence beginning with:
I noticed that...
or I saw...
or I observed...
Step 6: Repeat activity beginning with I wonder...
Step 7: Repeat activity beginning with This book is linked to me because...

After oral mini lessons above are completed numerous times the children write their answers. Then have students write 3 sentences using OWL including I noticed...; I wonder...; I linked this book to me because... (In kindergarten this is only an oral activity.)

5. Writing workshop mini lesson questions using specific words
Define and model asking questions starting with specific words:
what does would where
when do may did
why is can which
who how could are

6. Writing Workshop mini lesson Guess What?
***Teacher picks one prompt.
***The students brainstorm all the different things they could put in their pocket. Teacher lists the possibilities on the board.
***The child then puts the item he'll pick in the center of story mapping. He builds a story around that word.
***Child begins his story with the prompt. Then continues writing until the story is complete.
***Group shares stories showing all the possibilities.

Suggested PROMPTS:
In my pocket I keep
I turned the corner and I saw
I went upstairs and I met
Late at night I heard
I looked under my bed and there was
On my feet I put
In my cup I tasted
What I liked best for lunch is
I opened my window and in came
I opened the door and saw
In the kitchen I smelled
In my sock I felt
In the cage I saw
On my head I put