I'm working hard on creating some final lessons to be featured in the NNWP's new print resource: Promoting Deeper Student Thinking while Teaching Narrative Writing.  The guide will be finished this month so that it can go to both the editor and to print in March.

Many of the materials in the guide are oriented towards our Nevada fourth and fifth graders, since fifth grade is when our students are tested on narrative writing.  One of my issues with our state test is that it provides very little time for students to do proper pre-writing, which leads to very basic rough drafts being written; add to that the fact that most of our teachers don't prepare students to revise authentically, so when the students are given a short amount of time on the test to revise, they really do little more than add a few descriptions and write their rough drafts neater.  What gets submitted to our state test for scoring is more-often-than-not polished rough draft writing.  A polished rough draft--on its best day--barely passes the writing test.

Our new guide really focuses on teaching students to practice pre-writing and revision strategies well as they write to state-test-like prompts.  If students are well-practiced at genuine pre-writing and authentic revision, they will write better samples, even if they're given a limited amount of time to do these two tasks on the actual test.

And so...I did a demo lesson last week that focused on pre-writing for one of our fourth grade practice prompts; this lesson will be featured in the new guide.  Before I even came to work with the students for the two days I was scheduled, I sent them two videos, which forewarned them of the topic they'd be writing to, and asked them to start doing some thinking that would help them fill out the graphic organizer I'd be presenting them with.  Here is the second video I sent them to watch on their classroom's Smartboard.

Click here to see the whole video I sent the kids.


The writer's notebook page that I show in the video looks exactly like the graphic organizer I handed them as soon as I entered the class.  I couldn't believe how many of them were "raring to go" because they had watched both videos.  The graphic organizer was filled out very well and quickly, and that led to much better rough drafts from those kids.  I pick up their revised drafts this Friday, and I plan to post some of them here at the blog.

Here is the lesson on-line, where you can access the graphic organizer and other materials I used to with the students.



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