Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writing Fiction: Part 2 (What I Will Do and Won't Do Again)

We are four weeks into writing fiction.  And, we are about finished.  Or, as finished as any writer can be.

What have I learned this time around?  Well, a lot.

You can read about some beginning thoughts here:

I did my best to at least try to implement some of the learning I did with Mr. Lester Laminack this past summer.  (You can learn more about Mr. Laminack here at

We studied the elements of plot.  We "told the stories across our fingers" until the kids could do it practically in their sleep.  They understood plot in their reading, which soon carried over into their writing.  They had the vision for their fictional writing before they ever put a pencil to paper.  Or fingers to the keys.

We used the "6 Scenes" strategy to plan our writing.  We started with the Big Event/Climax (Scene 3), and then wrote outward from there.

Brooklyn is famous for her stories about Scary Squirrel and Stinky Skunk.  She has authored multiple sequels describing their adventures.

Did it work for all kids?  Probably not.  

When it came to actually writing (either digitally or with a pencil), some kids did run out of steam.  It's challenging for some to expand on a scene.

Even students who wrote a lot found themselves being careful that they referred back to their original "scene thinking."  

This may have inihibited some students.  Writers deviate from their original thinking often, right?  
Maybe some of my students should have just started their texts from the very beginning without a planning support in place?  I think it depends on the child.  In the future, I will probably offer the option and see what happens.

The most important thought I take away from this unit was the importance of teacher modeling.  I modeled the writing process in at least three different fictional stories from beginning thinking to ending.  I revised and edited and drafted and revised and edited, all in front of my students.  If the mentor text is the expert, then isn't it my job to be the bridge for my students?  If I expect them to write, I must write too.

I used student writing as models, even more than mentor texts this time around.  It was remarkable.  I had previously reluctant student writers who were begging me DAILY to share their writing.  

And finally, remember how students were having a difficult time expanding on their original, simple planning?  We made a t-chart and used student examples, side-by-side, to have a visual of what this thinking actually looks like and sounds like.

This is Cooper's example from his story about two dinosaurs who had some major conflict.

I cannot write enough about how much this scaffolding helped my students.  We displayed multiple examples, including some from my own writing.

As we celebrate our fictional stories next week, I will be remembering that things didn't go perfectly.  The act of writing is a messy process...

but so is the teaching of it!  


  1. Ann,
    What a fabulous reflection on your fiction writing. There is no ONE right way for all students to tell their stories. Your reliance on student mentor texts clearly showed your students that the stories were within themselves. Your own three models were, of course, another aid for your students. Our ultimate charge is to create students who ARE writers! You are well on your way!

  2. Fran,
    Thank you so much for your kind words, but most especially, for continuing to push my thinking about student writers. I look forward to continuing to learn from you!

  3. Ann can i have your blog posts emailed to me? Just curious!

  4. Ann can i have your blog posts emailed to me? Just curious!

  5. I found it. Officially stalking :)