Sunday, June 17, 2012

Did you say 10 minutes? Teaching Focus Instruction

Focus instruction is what you will work on first every day in your writing workshop.  A lot of us freaked out when we were told that focus instruction should only be about ten minutes!  How can you teach a focus lesson in only ten minutes?  What should it look like?  Glad we asked.  Our amazing mentor teachers walked us through several focus lessons that were ten minutes or less.  Here is the first one:

Focus Skill:  Story Leads
Maybe you're noticing that all of your students are beginning their stories with, "Once upon a time," or "One time..."  This lesson is meant to model for your children that authors use Grabber Leads to pull their readers into their stories and make them want to read more.  Michelle focused on three grabber leads with us during her focus instruction:

  • Leading with an interrogative statement:  Snow Day by Lester Laminack:  "Did you hear that?"
  • Leading with onomatopoeia:  Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson:  "Ba-room, ba-room, baripity..."
  • Leading with dialogue:  Goosebumps by R.L. Stine:  "This town stinks!"
Michelle shared the first line of each book and we talked about what interrogative, onomatopoeia, and dialogue were and how the author used them.  She then asked us to go to our writing notebooks and find a piece of writing.  Our assignment was to try using all three types of leads with our story.

I chose a piece about having my bunions removed.  My original lead was:  If only I had known during all of those years in dance that I would be thirty-five and wearing the same comfy sandals all the time, I would have been a swimmer instead!  Here's what I tried:

Interrogative:  "How are you feeling, Sarah?"  I promised myself I'd remember everything he said...
Onomatopoeia:  Swish!  The curtain closes around my bed and I lay alone in the bed.
Dialogue:  Heredity stinks! (This one was my favorite and I was quite proud of it :).)

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