Scary! Far from perfect! Successful! These all describe my first attempt at a self-directed writing unit with third graders. I am using self-directed to describe a unit in which students not only choose their topics, but also the genre. The mini-lessons for this unit centered on introductions and conclusions, things that were missing in students’ current writing. In theory, it was a fantastic idea. In practice, I didn’t know.
First, I read and learned. I looked at student work and found common missing pieces. I created a plan.
Then it came time to get started. The kids were pumped and so was I. Of course, as with any risk, there was some anxiety. Time is precious. Time with kids is precious. Was I wasting it on this unit?
There were some hiccups and more research I need to do. (For example, how to confer with kids writing comics.) Tracking the students was difficult, even with multiple teachers in the room for writing. (Trying a solution to this and will share in an upcoming post.)
However, after reading the final products and seeing the students sharing with their peers, I know it was a success and a good use of that precious time. With one unit under my belt and some adjustments, I am ready to do it again! (In a few months..not just yet.)
Here is a sampling of student work. There was such variety!
We had personal narratives:
We had some informational writing:
We had some fictional fights between dinosaurs:
We had some creative comics:
And one of my favorite comics…a laugh out loud comic about why dogs eat homework, from the point of view of the dogs.