Below is a writing activity by Bob Patrick (Atlanta) that I have chosen to include in the new star sequence book as one of its four “top quality” extension activities. Please look it over and provide comments in the comment fields below. Like Carly’s Carrot activity, it burns a few days at a time of year when that is a very good thing.
1. Print out a text that you would like your class to be able to read. This could include even authentic texts for strong upper level classes, as long as they have been trained with comprehensible input.
2. Select and highlight the words in the text that you feel would be essential to a successful reading of the text.
3. From the highlighted words, prepare a collection of 3 x 5 cards with one of the words on each card.
4. Spread the collection of cards out on a table.
5. Students form groups of no more than four.
6. Each group chooses a word from the table.
7. Working together on one sheet of paper with a scribe, the students start a story by writing one good sentence using that word .
8. When done, they call you over to “approve” the sentence. If there is a problem, explain it.
9. They fix the sentence.
10. Once their sentence receives final approval from you, they go get another word from the table from which to craft another sentence.
11. That next sentence has to link to the first one so that a story can take shape.
12. The process continues: they write a sentence, call you over, receive any grammar help, and then get a new word to further advance their story.
13. If the table is emptied of words, they find their next word from another group and give them one of theirs.
14. With 5 minutes left in class I tell them that with their next sentence or two, they should bring their story to a surprising end. (This last instruction about writing a surprise ending is a surprise itself which doesn’t allow time for overthinking.
15. I collect the stories and type them into a PowerPoint presentation.
16. The next day, we read the stories together.
17. After all the stories are read and discussed, give the students – perhaps on the next day – time to create a drawing in color that illustrates their story. Then discuss each drawing just as you discussed the written story in Step 16 above. This adds interest, eats up even more time, and makes it more fun. [Step 17 credit: Bryan Whitney]