Longest Writing Unit Ever

Yes, we're still writing our fiction stories.  We're moving sloooooooowly.  On purpose and in a good way.  We're happy writers right now.  Rushing through something new and challenging doesn't serve anybody well.

I wrote about our unit here and here.  We've finished our story plans and story blocking.  After developing our characters, we spent time developing our story plan.  I modeled one of my own and they also met to talk with their writing partners.  We took two or three days to do this.  I told you we were moving slowly.   This is my story that I modeled on using my Mimio board:

I cannot emphasize how important oral rehearsal (fancy Lucy Calkins talk for talking about your writing) has been for these kiddos.  Discussing their stories over and over and over has made them so real in their minds, that the transfer to writing them has been much smoother.  Teach Talk Write has been our theme through this entire unit.

After this step is where their stories usually turn really crummy.  We'd finish our plans, I'd tell them to write their story, and they'd mostly turn out pretty week.  The thing is, they never turned their plans into stories.  They just wrote a summary telling what happened instead of telling a story.  Sigh.

But their is a fix!  After writing our story plans, we filled out one for Tacky the Penguin.  I told the kids we were going to look at how Helen Lester turned that plan into an actually story, and then I read the book again.  Only this time, I didn't read what was there.  I basically just told the summary of the story.

The kids all but booed me.  They did tell me it was terrible and one even told me it was a fail.  Wink, wink, kids, that was the whole point.

Enter our last and final prewriting step: Story Blocking
The kids had to plan three or four actions for each part of their story plan.  What has going to HAPPEN to show your reader the idea you want them to have?

Feel free not to judge my handwriting.  I didn't prewrite this, so I was writing quickly while teaching.

This is hard, y'all.  We didn't rush it.  You can do hard things if you don't try to do them all at once.  I modeled, they talked, then wrote.  We spread this out over four days.

Now it's time to move onto writing our stories.  Finally!  And you know what?  It's going to be a breeze.  They have thought about this story, talked about this story, and planned this story in such detail that the words will come easily.  This writing teacher couldn't be happier about that.

You can download blank versions of the story plan here and the story blocking page here.  For the story blocking page, I printed it on legal sized paper and enlarged it to 11x17 to give the kiddos plenty of room.  Be warned: Google Docs hates legal size.  It will print a mini version unless adjust your print settings to legal.