1st Grade - Tennant

Web Update: March 27, 2017

FINAL WRITING PROJECT: below you'll find an exact copy of the email that I recently sent out giving details on the home-portion of our upcoming writing projects. The goal is to have this part done by Monday after spring break.

Greetings Parents,
Our class is about to start our third, full-size writing project of the year. As you know, we've written informative paragraphs, opinion paragraphs, and now we've been working on writing stories as a class and in our journals. This comes really naturally for most kids, but for some it is a struggle. A great story is usually figured out in the mind, long before it is actually written down. It takes a lot of planning, thinking through, and coming up with details. Here is where I need your help. In order to write their best stories, scholars are going to need someone to listen to their ideas and coach them on whether or not those ideas are making sense the way they are expressing them (meaning it might make sense in the mental video they're playing in their own mind, but perhaps they're not expressing it very well in words). Also, they need someone to make sure they're including all the necessary ingredients in their story recipe (characters, setting, problem/challenge, attempt to solve that fails #1, attempt to solve that fails #2, and final solution). Depending on your child's ability and motivation level, having two failed attempts to solve the problem is negotiable (if your child is really not feeling this assignment and it is causing stress at home, then one failed- attempt to solve the problem will be sufficient). Also, another way to think of failed attempts is multiple steps to solving a problem. Perhaps in your child's story, there really isn't a problem, but it is more of a challenge that takes multiple steps to reach the desired goal.
Below I've outlined the specific things I would love to have you help your scholar with. If possible, please work on this throughout the week of spring break- so by the time we get back from the break everyone will be ready to go. Also, ideally, if you work through it at the beginning of spring break, it would be great if you could revisit it again, right before they come back to school so that if they forget their ideas, you can help them recover the bulk of them.
1) I have shared a link to a slide-presentation (below). Please look through the slides with your scholars and ask them which picture they will be using as inspiration for their story project. By the end of this week, I will have already shown these pictures to the class and we will have brainstormed for ideas of what one could write about each picture. They should only pick one picture (rather than trying to pick two or more which will just make the story more complicated).
2) Ask your scholar to describe the setting in detail. What do they want to call this place? What is it like there ? What are the people/creatures that live there like? Is this a "real" place or is this a magical world? What does it feel like there (is it happy? scary?, sad?)
3) Ask your scholar to describe the characters that they want to include in their story?
4)What is the problem or challenge that the main character will face? How will the character feel about that challenge (scared, excited, confused, angry).
5) What is the first step that the character will take to solve the challenge or problem and why won't it work? How does the character feel when it doesn't work?
6) Do the same thing over again for the second attempt to solve.
7) Finally, discuss how the problem will eventually get solved and how will the character feel then.
8) Once your scholar can tell his/her story, have him repeat it to several adult friends or family members. The more the story can be told, the easier it will be to write and generally the writing will be of better quality because the scholar will have worked out the awkward wording or parts that aren't easily understood to a first time reader/listener.
9) Scholars can draw pictures of the various parts of their story. They can create a comic strip or storyboard- THAT IS COMPLETELY OPTIONAL, but they often enjoy that and it will help them memorize the parts of their story.
After all this, you might be wondering what part of this project I'm planning on doing... I'll be helping them here at school with taking their story through the mechanics of the writing process. This will be their first project in which I will require them to have a rough draft and final draft. It is a big step toward second-grade readiness.
If for some reason you know you won't be able to do this project with your scholar due to your schedule and other responsibilities, please let me know and we can try to squeeze in those conversations with your scholar here at school.
Thanks for all you do. I will post the content of this email on my web-page so you can reference it as needed.
Link to slide presentation of fun story starter pictures: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1v7hYq0UlFWmtwVATJuNZaQSY55IwozvNaDQJql5CD6c/edit?usp=sharing
-Ashley Tennant