I've been brainstorming ideas for the first two weeks of writing workshop. Our fifth and sixth graders have not had much time to develop as writers in a workshop model, so we're looking for ways to coax them into the playground of their notebooks. And also for ways to begin to deepen and quicken their thought-to-paper rivers, a.k.a. their "writing fluency." Here are a few ideas we might use:
1-You're a world class expert on being a kid in Salt Lake City in 2007. Nobody else on the whole planet imagines the world and experiences things the same way you do. Write your observations about daily events, capturing them like a camera with a YOU colored lens. I have some kid-writing samples for this and maybe I'll also use the picture book Can't Sit Still.
2-Map your heart and then write about some of those topics that are near and dear to you.
3-Lists: favorite days, favorite video games, favorite books, best field trips, strongest wrestlers, best life experiences, worst life experiences, injuries, etc., etc., etc., We'll keep a list of list ideas on the wall.
4-Place a noun in a circle and then draw a web with adjectives or phrases that describe that noun. Use the web to write a descriptive paragraph.
5-Think of an experience and then list the 5 W's and 5 senses of the event. Who was there? What happened? Where was it? When did it happen? Why was this happening? Write about the tastes, smells, sounds, feelings, and sights.
6-Create your very own metaphors. I'm going to introduce the concept of metaphors with the book A Sock is a Pocket For Your Toes. The pocket metaphor is so versatile. We'll then play with other types of _______________ is like ___________________ pharases. (I know this is, technically, a simile, but I think we'll just use the word metaphor at first.)
After the first two weeks, or so, we'll move into strategies to generate ideas for personal narratives and then continue right on through the first book from Lucy Calkins' Units of Writing: Launching The Writing Workshop. One big difference, that we'll have to calibrate into our workshop, is that our students will draft, revise, edit, and publish using Microsoft Word. But most of our movement down the path toward our first published narrative piece will follow closely in Lucy's steady footsteps.