Live Writing: Breathing Life into your Words by Ralph Fletcher
First Grade Writers Units of Study to Help Children Plan, Organize, and Structure Their Ideas by Stephanie Parsons (Ch 5)
Workshop Help Desk Grade 2 A Quick Guide to Teaching Second-Grade Writers with Units of Study (see what Lucy Calkins wrote for November). She writes about Fiction which is Realistic Fiction.
Read Realistic Fiction books:
It’s MY Birthday! By Pat Hutchins
Peter’s Chair by by Ezra Jack Keats
Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Williams
Big Sister and Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow
Henry and Mudge books by Cynthia Rylant (read ahead to find a clear problem/solution book)
Other possible short story books – make sure you read any suggestions for your grade level and your teaching situation
Baseball in April and other Stories by Gary Soto
What do Fish have to do with anything? and other stories by Avi
Space Boy by Orson Scott Card
Thank you M’am by Langston Hughes (in the 4th grade Junior Great Books series) and also available in full text online http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/hughesthankyou.html
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/childrenindex.html has themed short stories. http://www.magickeys.com/books/#oc has stories for older children.
Paul Fleischman’s Seedfolks
Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul ( I used for LC Essay unit)
As you pick books that work for your unit, make sure they have a clear problem and solution.
Lucy Calkins recommends that as you read, identify teaching points for the unit.
Possible teaching points:
TEACHING POINT: When picking a character, have the character be the same age as the writer. The writer changes the name of the character, then it is realistic fiction. Students relate to someone who is the same age or nearly the same age.
TEACHING POINT: Now, that the character is chosen, what will the character do to get into trouble?
Generate a list or chart of problems with the students:
First column has the heading problem
1. broken pencil lead
2. mom said no (I can’t have a dog)
3. mom said no (I can’t have a new game system…wii)
5. Only one item (need to share, but don’t want to)
6. I forgot to pick out my Just Right books
8. ran down the hallway and got glared at by the teacher
TEACHING POINT: Now, that you have generated problems (or more likely while you generated problems,) the students solved the problems at the same time.
Second column has the heading possible solutions to problem
1. new pencil / loan a pencil / sharpen a pencil
2. (I solve dog issue by convincing mom I will take care of dog)
3. I earn $
4. eat food
5. figure out how to share one item with someone
6. told teacher, borrowed from friend, sat and pouted, read last week’s books
7. went back and walked the hallway
Have students think about their lives. What problem occurs on the bus or near the bus stop that can get solved? What problem occurs every day as students line up to go home? Students usually argue over who is first and last in the line. How does the writer solve this problem? What other school related problems could become stories? What other home related problems could become stories?
TEACHING POINT: What is the character doing, saying, thinking? What is the difference between telling and story telling? Teach the writers to picture themselves in the moment. If this was a movie, or a play what would they be doing? What would their character say? Remember the moment that this happened. What did someone actually say? Barry Lane calls these snapshots, and thoughtshots.
TEACHING POINT: Since this is realistic fiction, not a true story, remember that we have to teach our writers to omit I. Our writers need a lesson on writing with the pronouns he and she.
TEACHING POINT: Only one problem and one solution. Many times young writers create drama and just plain poor writing by including lots of problems.
What other teaching points will you include in your unit?
Plan your demonstration lessons. What problem/solution are you planning on using in your demonstration lesson? Does your classroom have a mascot that can be the star of the realistic fiction demonstration lesson?