Carets, a Delicious Writing Treat

Posted January 11, 2008 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook.


To encourage my students to revise, I bring in this lesson by Marcia Chamberlain. Students as young as first grade can learn to use the caret and delete editing symbols. Before students revise their individual pieces, we revise a piece of writing as a class. I bring in a carrot to help teach using the “caret.” Students use the carrot to point to where they want something added. To practice deleting, students take turns leading the class in making the loop de loop sign in the air; we create a funny noise to make with the movement.

In the above example, the original line of the poem read, “the sound of the big dolphins.” The students agreed that ‘big’ was a boring word, so they replaced it with ‘humongous.’ I asked the students to create the actual sound they believed dolphins make, so we could include that in the poem. “Tri tri” is what they came up with.

Then it’s time for students to revise their own pieces. I bring in red pens for students to revise with or let students select one of their colored pencils. The novelty of writing with a new implement is often enough to make revising exciting and fun!amy-lin-in-a-maze.jpg

Letter from the Heart

Posted December 20, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

As a follow up to the lesson about our hands, we wrote about our feet, hair, eyes, heart, and ears. In groups, students brainstormed and wrote down facts about the body parts. Then we reviewed how to format letters. In this assignment, students were to take the perspective of their body part and write a letter to them. What would your eyes want to say to you? What do your ears enjoy doing? One student’s feet were sad to have stopped playing soccer, but glad they got a rest. One pair of eyes reminded their owner to wear glasses. And one boy’s hair asked to be put into mohawks more often.

Hearts, Hearts, and More Hearts

Dear Jackson,

I am Heart. I get really tired when you work out. Can you try to do something else, like watch T.V. or draw? Try not to eat so much candy. It is bad for me. I like it when you drink water. I like to pump blood. But I hate cholesterol. Some people think I am shaped like a valentine heart, but they are wrong. If you think my job is easy, you are wrong. I like it when you do more peaceful things.



P.S. Watch more T.V.

Picture and letter by Jackson, 2nd Grade

posted by Amy Lin, Writers in the Schools

Opening Hands

Posted December 18, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


With lines like “Eyes, eyes/looking left and right,/crying tears sometimes,/resting through the night,” Charlotte Agell’s Dancing Feet helps us appreciate everything our bodies can do. This week I read Agell’s book to my 2nd graders, and we discussed the pattern of the words. The book features lines about many different body parts, but we narrowed the focus and wrote a poem that focused solely on our hands.

Before writing the poem, the class reviewed the definition of verbs. We brainstormed a list of dozens of verbs that describe activities that our hands can do. Since the poem uses the gerund or –ing form of verbs, we also reviewed how to drop the “e” and add –ing. As the students wrote their poems, I reminded them that we all have unique hands with special talents and powers. I encouraged students to reflect that uniqueness in their verb choices.

Hands, Hands

Hands, hands,

Throwing a basketball,

Making a bird house,

Cutting paper,

Writing a poem,

Fetching a ball,

Drawing a piece of a sun,

Sharing a piece of pie,

Chopping a tree down,

Washing the dishes,

Baking a cake,

Washing a lot of clothing,

Opening my present,

Picking up trash,

Moppin’ the floor,

Hands, hands.

by Zoreiah, 2nd Grade

I got to know my students better through their poems. I learned who enjoys art, who loves sports, and even wits-blog-pics-007.jpgwhose hands like to eat corn on the cob!

posted by Amy Lin, Writers in the Schools


To Rhyme is Sublime

Posted December 10, 2007 & filed under Notebook.


This week my first grade students used their spelling words to create a silly rhyme. I encouraged students to make up new words as well. Especially for younger students just learning how to write, rhyme can be a wonderful teaching tool for the following reasons:

1. Rhyme teaches students phonemic and phonological awareness.

2. Rhyme gives students an appreciation of the rhythmic and musical qualities of language.

3. Rhyme helps students learn about word families, like cake, bake, and lake.

4. Rhyme teaches students the patterns and structures in language.

5. Rhyme allows students to play and experiment with language.

Here’s an untitled example by one of my first graders:

ride the bike Mike

nice mice

bake the cake lake

race face

star mar

eat meat

peek at the week

there’s a cage on the stage

the dime is a crime

Did I miss Christmas

It is Christmas Eve Steve

by Katherine, 1st Grade

The children enjoyed this writing activity and hearing each other silly rhymes made everyone giggle. Wiwits-blog-pics-007.jpgth older students, it might be fun to bring in the Paul Simon song, “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” which models internal rhyme in longer sentences with an overarching theme.


By Amy Lin, Writers in the Schools