Last week I worked with two reluctant writers in an after-school support program. Their regular teacher had a family emergency just an hour or so before the end of the day, and was in quite a panic. I told her not to worry, to go home and I would take care of her students. After she left, I had a brief “What was I thinking?” moment, then realized that I knew exactly how we’d spend the hour.
I recently bought a copy of Marvelous Minilessons for Teaching Intermediate Writing, Grades 4-6, by Lori Jamison Rog (International Reading Association, 2011). In the first chapter, Rog provides a concise but thorough overview of the writing workshop. The rest of the book is organized by topics such as prewriting, elaboration, craft, and specific genres. The chapter on prewriting had an activity that I was sure would engage these students. They both loved to talk and had plenty to say, but had difficulty getting their thoughts down on paper. “Love It or Loathe It” is essentially a two column chart that allows students to generate lists of things they really love or really loathe. As we know, and as Rog points out, “the best writing comes from topics that a writer feels strongly about” (p. 33). To help them get started, I shared my “Love It or Loathe It” list.
|Love It||Loathe It|
It took them a few minutes, but once they got started, they produced quite a lengthy list. We had a lively conversation around their topics, with an item from one student’s “Love It” list reminding the other of something they loathed. After about 10 minutes, they chose a topic to write about. When the hour was up, they didn’t want to stop and took their writing home to keep working. That’s the way I love to end a lesson.
What do you love? What do you loathe?