Writing Curriculum: Descriptive Writing Workshop. Charleston Middle School August 16, 2010. Denise E. Reid Eastern Illinois University [email protected] Introductions. Reintroduce yourselves after the summer break. Briefly share the most interesting experience you had this summer.
Reintroduce yourselves after the summer break.
Briefly share the most interesting experience you had this summer.
A writer’s notebook gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don’t want to forget. A writer’s notebook gives you a place to live like a writer. (Ralph Fletcher, 2003)
A writer’s notebook should include: descriptions of experiences, lists, details, stories, wonderings, notes, wonderful words, mind pictures, drawings, quick writes, etc.
A writer’s notebook should be on hand during writing block.
“Words and language are a way of trying out and understanding something.” (Harlen, 2001)
What concerns do you have about writing instruction?
What do you do at the beginning of the school year to get to know your students and to help them get to know and understand each other?
(Nancie Atwell, 1998)
A minilesson is …
Post your “Writing Territories” to share with your students.
Give a brief explanation of several of the items included on your writing territories list to model your thinking.
“Now it’s your turn to create a list of your territories.”
Share your ideas with a partner.
Select one of the ideas from your list.
Use your five senses to explore the idea.
What do you see?
What smells and tastes surround the event?
What textures can you feel?
What sounds do you hear?
Use this brainstorming activity to write about the event.
This a guided writing activity. Help your students learn the art of visualizing as you walk them through several practices. This activity works well with character and setting development.
Visualize your character standing still-begin at the feet-what type of shoe is he/she wearing-how would you describe the shoe? -move up to the ankle—do you see socks, a cuff, slender bones, etc.-glance at the hip area—is he/she wearing slacks, shorts, anything in the pockets, or hanging from the pockets-what do you notice about the waist area—thin, thick, belted, shirt hanging out-what do you notice about the arms and hands—what do the fingernails look like? Is he/she holding anything?-how would you describe the clothing?-check out his/her posture.-what type of hairstyle does this character have? color—length—hat-look at the face—what do you notice about the expression (brows, lips, eyes)
Crazy like a Fox: A Simile Story by Loreen Leedy
My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks: And Other Funny Family Portraits by Hanock Piven
Muddy as a Duck Puddle: And Other American Similes by Laurie Lawlor & Ethen Long
There’s a Frog in My Throat: 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me by Loreen Leedy & Pat Street
Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill
Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
It sounds so ordinary!
Artists use many shades of brown:Brown – (“Tuppeny” the Guinea pig – Fuzzy)Sepia – (Forest floor silent and damp)bittersweet (bitter sweet! crackly)Mahogany (cello – Deep and gleaming)Raw Umber (“Charley” Furry, tangly)Burnt Umber (pine tree bark)Burnt Sienna (hamburgers on the grill)Burnt Orange (“Baron” – silkey, shiney and flaming)Tan (Saddle Leather – smells good)
Find them all if you can.
Avoid using things and ways!
Look at your character description.
Are your nouns and verbs descriptive or specific?
There are many words or phrases that can be used to describe an object.
Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black & Kevin Hawkes
Use a dictionary or thesaurus.
Dear John letter …
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! By Lynne Truss and Bonnie Timmons
Refer back to your character description. Have you used commas and other punctuation marks effectively?
Minilessons include …
“If you can keep only one thing in mind, and I fail at this half the time, it is that we are teaching the writer and not the writing. If the piece of writing gets better, but the writer has learned nothing that will help him or her another day on another piece, then the conference was a waste of everyone’s time. It may have done more harm than good, for such conferences teach students to be dependent on us.” Lucy McCormick Calkins
-Members of the group provide the author of the piece as to how they were effected by the piece
-Ask the author questions about the piece of writing. Ask author to clarify ideas.
-Goal: Become an independent reflective writer.
CONTENT: Questions extend and develop the writing adding details.
FORM: Questions encourage experimentation with the design, genre, sequence, or emphasis.
PROCESS: Questions focus on the writer about how the writer writes.
EVALUATION: Questions analyze strengths and weaknesses of the writing.
“It is easy to list questions in a book and harder to ask them in real classrooms. The questions put the spotlight on the writer, and too often as teachers we hesitate to give away control. We look at a student’s rough draft and have the urge to take it over, to make it match our expressions.”
Lucy McCormick Calkins
-What part jumps out at you?
-What parts do you like?
-Could you picture any parts in your mind?
-Ask questions always using “I”.
-Was there a place where you had just a sketchy mental picture
and wanted more?
Peers never evaluate a piece of writing, but give the writers “feedback”.