Small Moments (Narrative Writing)
Children learn how to write narratives in which they recount sequenced events from their own lives. We zone in small moments that happen in an instant rather than telling about a whole day, week, etc. Children learn how to "unfreeze" their characters, bringing them to life by making them move, talk, think, and feel both in their drawings and words. Children then learn to slow down their story narratives, developing and unfolding the action bit by bit. We examine a mentor text to discover writing crafts used by a published author. For example, children learn the value of writing with precise and powerful action words, and of using text features (including enlarged font) to shape the way readers read their texts. Towards the end of the unit, children are introduced to early versions of both revision and editing.
Writing Reviews (Opinion Writing)
This unit is divided into two bends, or parts. The first bend is built on the notion that six-year-olds collect stuff. Dig through a child's backpack, lunch box, or cubby and you'll find a collection of stickers, bracelets, or pokemon cards. Children will use writing to think and talk about the stuff of their lives, learning to review their collections and make choices about which item in that collection is best. They will write defenses for these judgments, which will become their introduction to writing reviews. During the second bend students will write review after review, writing about anything and everything: toys, restaurants, video games, the works! Students study mentor texts, and their writing will begin to look like what you would expect to see in persuasive writing-claims or opinions, followed by reasons and explanations for those reasons.
Nonfiction Chapter Books (Informational Writing)
Students will be introduced to how to write a "teaching book.” They will work to fill a folder with pieces about topics they know well. Students will fill each page of their texts with new and interesting information that is designed to teach readers about a topic. They will learn to keep their readers in mind, working together to anticipate any questions a reader might have, what details will help a reader learn, and to fix up any unclear writing. Later in the unit, children will graduate from writing information texts to writing informational chapter books. The focus in this bend is on structure. Children learn how to organize their information texts into chapter books, writing longer and more ambitious pieces. They also learn to incorporate common elements found in information books such as tables of contents, introductions, and conclusions.
Realistic Fiction (Narrative Writing)
Writers call on their pretending skills to invent characters and small moment adventures. Students will write lots of realistic fiction stories quickly and with independence, using all they already know about writing small moments and bringing their stories to life. They will introduce characters that get into trouble and then write how their characters get out of trouble. Writers are encouraged to use courageous word choice and spelling, and also to reflect on their writing and set new goals using the narrative checklist. Later in the unit, writers use all they have learned to write series- putting their characters into more than one book, and more than one adventure. They give special consideration to what they put in Book One of a series so that readers are set up for books to follow.
Students will experience poetry through their work in centers and through shared and interactive writing activities. Students will be exposed to various forms of poetry and use tunes from familiar songs to jump-start their writing. They are encouraged to find what inspires them and write about that topic. The emphasis will be on asking, “What really matters to me?” Children will spend time learning to convey their thoughts and feelings through songs and poems.
Writing Like Scientists (Informational Writing)
Children will study a whole-class topic during a daily science writing workshop and will write, sketch, and jot questions to record and grow their thinking. They’ll conduct experiments, first as a class and then on their own, writing lab reports and information books about these experiments. They’ll write observations, musings, and their own predictions about what might happen and why it might be happening. Children will spend about a couple weeks learning to recall and gather information from their experiments and other sources, synthesizing this information to answer questions.