Type:

Unit

Description:

Mastering the Essentials gives students and teachers the foundation they need to carry out a 21st century writing workshop that will show results over the school year. Teaching writing to young adolescents is enormously challenging because learning to write is not about one skill; it represents a “bundle,” encompassing everything from generating good ideas to editing the grammar of a final draft(Fletcher and Portalupi, 2001). Recognizing just how complex this type of instruction can be, this four week introductory unit aims to make start-up easy, fun and understandable to students, and highly manageable for teachers. But is it really necessary to take so much time to introduce the practices associated with the 21st century writing workshop? What can be gained? Linda Ellis and Jamie Marsh, the authors of Getting Starting: The Reading–Writing Workshop, Grades 4–8, emphasize the importance of setting the stage when they state, “What happens in the beginning of the writing workshop sets the tone for the rest of the year. It’s critical to establish our expectations and organization, structure and commitment” (Heinemann, 2007, 51). Mastering the Essentials does just that. Students develop an understanding of the overall structure of the workshop and how they will take part in this environment that emphasizes responsibility (for choosing and fleshing out topics, working independently, exchanging writing with peers online), active learning (making effective use of in-class writer’s work time by writing in a sustained manner) and professionalism (producing complete pieces of writing and publishing for a real online audience). Students come to understand and develop essential skills while completing the first assignment, a written “snapshot” that briefly describes a real experience in detail. Students get their feet wet with several stimulating brainstorming approaches that ignite their imaginations, and engage in every step of the writing process while being supported by instruction that meets their individual needs as well as web-based activities increasingly relevant to their day-to-day lives. Ultimately, they produce work for sharing and celebrating. For youngsters, this first project goes far beyond familiarizing them with the practices and guidelines that will be used all year. Students also have an initial enlightening and satisfying writing experience to jump start what is to follow.

Subjects:

  • Language Arts > General
  • Language Arts > Writing

Education Levels:

  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8

Keywords:

Writing Write ELA Language Arts Middle School Teaching Matters Writing Matters Memoir Editorials Short Fiction Response to Literature Poetry

Language:

English

Access Privileges:

Members

License Deed:

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Collections:

None
Update Standards?

LA.5-8.5.1.1: Communication Arts

organize text in paragraphs with clear beginning, middle, and end, using transitions and logical sequence.

LA.5-8.5.1.2: Communication Arts

develop a main idea through relevant supporting details.

LA.5-8.5.1.3: Communication Arts

demonstrate some control of personal voice, sentence structure, and word choice.

LA.5-8.5.1.4: Communication Arts

apply conventions of standard written English (e.g., spelling, punctuation, usage) appropriate for grade level and purpose.

LA.5-8.5.2.1: Communication Arts

plan writing by generating and organizing ideas through a variety of strategies and by considering purpose and audience.

LA.5-8.5.2.2: Communication Arts

write one or more drafts that capture and organize ideas.

LA.5-8.5.2.3: Communication Arts

revise writing at the word, sentence, and paragraph levels using feedback from others.

LA.5-8.5.2.4: Communication Arts

edit, with some assistance, by correcting errors (e.g., grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, usage).

LA.5-8.5.2.5: Communication Arts

share/publish a legible final product.

LA.5-8.5.3.1: Communication Arts

set goals and analyze successes in their own and others' writing.

LA.5-8.5.3.2: Communication Arts

share and discuss their own and others' writing for improvement and growth as writers.

LA.5-8.5.3.3: Communication Arts

identify and describe strengths and weaknesses as writers.

LA.5-8.5.4.1: Communication Arts

identify and articulate the purpose for their writing and write appropriately.

LA.5-8.5.4.2: Communication Arts

choose audiences (e.g., self, peers, adults) appropriate to purposes and topics.

LA.5-8.5.4.3: Communication Arts

experience writing in different genres (e.g., narrative writing).

LA.5-8.5.5.1: Communication Arts

identify and analyze characteristics of different forms (e.g., narrative, journal, technical).

LA.5-8.5.5.2: Communication Arts

write using characteristics of different forms.

LA.5-8.5.6.1: Communication Arts

pose questions or identify problems.

LA.5-8.5.6.2: Communication Arts

find and use a variety of technologies and information sources.

LA.5-8.5.6.3: Communication Arts

identify several explanations or solutions, and draw conclusions based on their analysis of the information.

LA.5-8.5.6.4: Communication Arts

share information in appropriate ways for intended audiences.
Curriki Rating
On a scale of 0 to 3
3
On a scale of 0 to 3

This resource was reviewed using the Curriki Review rubric and received an overall Curriki Review System rating of 3, as of 2009-12-12.

Component Ratings:

Technical Completeness: 3
Content Accuracy: 3
Appropriate Pedagogy: 2

Reviewer Comments:

This lesson is written for students in grades 11 – 12, but can be easily adapted for use with students across a variety of grade levels. Students are asked complete a 3-5 minute Jing screencast, complete with voice over, that teaches a multimedia technique. Jing is web-based and free, but recording time is capped at 5 minutes and 2GB of storage/bandwidth for online sharing. The lesson plan is clear and easy to follow. It would be helpful to see the mentioned rubric for evaluation of students’ completed work.

Not Rated Yet.

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