I have continued to confer with students and offer feedback to improve their writing. I have also continued to give them time to share their writing. This week I started letting them share after snack which was an idea I stole from another teacher. (Thanks Michelle!) This time of day is an excellent way to wind down our day together. They really enjoy sitting in my teacher chair and reading their writing to the class. I hope they feel a sense of pride sitting in the “Author’s Chair”. We always clap for each other and I tell them what wonderful writers and illustrators they have become since the beginning of the year.


Me and Lance are best friends. We like to play football. We take turns being quarterback.




I have been reading About the Authors – Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers by Katie Wood Ray with Lisa B. Cleaveland. This book contains lots of ideas for minilessons, but the authors stress that a lot of minilessons are taught based on the needs of the students. Ideas for minilessons come from what the teacher sees in the students’ daily writing. This is what I did this week. I noticed what my students were doing (or not doing) in their writing and taught minilessons this week. One was on making sure they write the date on their work. Another was remembering to use capitals and periods. Still another was making sure to use spaces between words.

I was presented a chance to teach a minilesson about where authors get their ideas. Bob wrote a story titled Fires. It was about a topic that was disturbing. Some teachers might not have allowed him to share it with the class, but I did.



12 13

  • page 1: Fires    title page
  • page 2: fire  low fire burning   kids
  • page 3: fire    big fire
  • page 4:   Four kids are dying cause of the big fire.
  • page 5:   The mom and dad lived in the fire. They wanted their kids to die. I feel sorry for them.
  • page 6: The End

As he was reading his book to the class, I heard comments such as “Did that really happen?”, “That’s awful!”, “I just about cried.” and “Why did you write that?”. I stepped in and told my first-graders that writers get their ideas from many places. Writers may write about something that happened in their daily lives, a special memory, family, friends, a special event, a special place, pets, a historical moment, other books or just from sitting at a park and watching people. I explained that Bob got his idea from a show he watched on t.v. I went on to say that not every book has a happy ending. Some writers may choose to write a sad story. I talked with my students about the idea that stories can be silly, happy, scary, funny, sad, fiction or non-fiction. It was up to the writer as to what kind of story he or she wanted to write. They nodded in agreement then proceeded to discuss with someone beside them the type of writing they like to write. I will be curious to see if I have any more sad stories written in the near future. Since it was at the end of the day, I had Bob leave his book so we could talk about fixing capitals at the beginning of sentences, periods at the end of sentences and possible spelling errors.

After a phone call to his parents to confirm what Bob told me, he did indeed get his idea from a show he watched with his mom called Snapped. This is a true-crime reality series. What he saw and heard on this show had a lasting impact on him and he was compelled to write this book. It was a topic that mattered to him and I would never want to make him feel that his ideas are not worthy to be put into a book.



5 thoughts on “Dipping My Toes Into Minilessons

  1. What a nice share Penny. I like how you are interested and reflecting on what the students are and not doing and planning around that information. I also think that end end of the day (snack time) would be a good time to share. I may have to take that idea as well.

    As for the sharing, bravo for addressing a different and somewhat worriome story. It is important to allow shares that are very telling of what may be happening at home or just want a student is feeling. I think you handled it well, by reminding your students that stories are not always happy and the author can write what they feel, are inspired or influenced by. Your post made me remember a story I told my students this week, about something scary that my sister made me do. One of my male students was sitting next to me on the carpet and said, “Whoa, that was kinda sad AND mean.” I responded with, “Yes, no one has all happy stories”. I was motivated to tell a different type story to my students, because I know that one of my boys is making up stories about the parents that he does not have. I want him to know that he can share a real story, even if in his eyes it does not measure up to the “perfectly happy” stories his peers share.


  2. Penny,
    I like that you are “Dipping your Toes into MIni lessons”. It is a share that all of us teachers can relate to, regardless of the grade level. I love how that your students looked interested as one was sharing their writing in the picture. If you found a time that works for sharing even if its at the end of the day, that’s fantastic. I love how you handled the sad story too. Even more so I am proud of the student who was bold and courageous not only to write about it but stand and tell about it to. He helped you have opportunity to share with your young writers about different genres and that not all stories have happy endings.


  3. Wow……..I am glad you decided to let him share. I would have been a little worried too, at first, but after reading your post and there being so much discussion/questions after he read it, what a good way to get the students listening and involved.

    I think calling the parents after he read to find out where his story came from was a great idea. I would have wondered as well. It’s a little disturbing and getting the WHOLE story is important!

    I also liked your idea of mini lessons being taught on what the kids are doing in their writing not something that I want to do. I feel that we spend so much time focusing on what we have to do to please everyone else that we forget what to do to please our students.

    Great Post….I look forward to reading many more!



  4. What a great reflection of the teaching that occurs in your classroom. I enjoyed reading this week as you painted a vivid picture of what it looks like to be the author in your class. I appreciate how you allowed the opportunity for students to share and how that turns into impromptu conferences. Your students gained so much just from listening to each other share as well as sharing their own stories. What a great example of learning in the moment and capturing each teachable minute with your students. I appreciate that you pointed out how your teaching follows their lead, that is why you’re an amazing teacher.


  5. Wow! What an incredibly powerful post in SO MANY ways.

    I get such a different feel from your blog post this week! I sense a focus on what you CAN do–no matter how small–to bring authentic, engaged writing into your classroom. This story about the the child writing about what sounds like a very scary TV show, reminds us of the inherent challenges of inviting children to bring their real lives, issues, thoughts, and concerns into our classrooms. We sometimes forget that children’s lives are complicated and messy and often don’t fit into happy narratives of family trips and holidays. You handled this moment like the pro that you are! Your took the opportunity to use Bob’s writing as a mini-lesson on where writers get ideas–and to remind children that in this classroom, when you say children have choice in what they write about, you really mean it! What a beautiful lesson about writing as well as life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s