Digging Deeper into Texts

If you have followed me for the last year, this post may look a little familiar.  It’s come around to our “writing about historical fiction” unit, and once again my students are LOVING IT!  I would go so far as to say that today’s writing block was one of our best hours of the year so far this year!

In a nutshell, this writing unit asks students to think back and reflect on a book/books they have already read.  Whether it be a class read aloud, a book done in a book club (that’s what we are using…our historical fiction book club books), or an independent read, we are “digging deeper” into the text to really study key characters and key events and then to write about them.

As we read our historical fiction books, we “tracked our thinking” in our reader’s notebooks which is making this process a lot easier, but the simple fact is–they are writing about something they are an “expert” on because they know the books so well.  The words are flowing–even for my reluctant writers.

The students are presented with a menu of options to select from:

The two tasks at the top are required of all students and are taken fully through the writing process….we model and plan as a class, then draft alone, and then we work in revision pairs to try to improve our work for publication.
The other six are optional tasks…some students will complete only a few and others will complete all six.  A lot depends on if they are pulled for other small groups or if they are willing to do some work at home!
The last few days have been spent working on their “perspective writing” and the students are LOVING getting into the role of two different characters to tell about critical turning point in the book. It helps that the book club books were “meaty” and we had great discussions along the way.  Students have character quotations, key events, and even character feelings tracked as “things to discuss” in book clubs so they have lots of good material to use in their writing!  Students are sharing like crazy and are lining up to read me some of their best lines…they LOVE trying to capture the emotion of the event!
We are storing all our “works in progress” in these construction paper “portfolios”.  That way our revision sheets, final copies, sketches, and everything are all in one place.

Each student has a “menu” and is working on drafts in their notebooks.  We made a T-chart to plan our perspective writing and then students are drafting in their spirals.

One of the best things to watch is students “digging in” to their texts to find examples, to quote directly from characters and so on.  They were seriously ALL writing and working for a full 60 minutes today!  It gave me tons of time to circulate and coach and confer!
Interested in having it all ready for you?  Here is the link to the resource in my store…
Have a great day!