I decided I wanted to take all that I have learned so far from Aimee Buckner´s book Nonfiction Notebooks: Strategies for Informational Writing and apply it in my 6th grade social studies class.
Monday– My 6th grade students walked in on Monday expecting to see the normal directions written on the board. They thought they would be reading articles and answer questions about some ancient civilization. This had become our weekly routine. I was bored with it and I know my students had to be as well. Even though change was welcomed, the unexpected change caused some students to act out. This class in particular thrives off of routine so I knew that this much change at once would cause some problems and boy was I right. I knew we would need more time for even the smallest of task as they got into the routine of what we were doing.
I began the class by explaining that we were going to be writing and that they would be choosing their subject. I explained that their topic needed to have some association to something we had previously learned about. I told them this is a type of review for the class, but also should inform the class of new information about their topic.
After our purpose was set, writing began with the pre-writing strategies ¨All about¨ and ¨Better Questions¨ Students took three minutes to write a list of topics the had learned about and was interested in learning more about. They then discussed with a partner for two minutes narrowing their list down to their two favorite topics. I suggested that if they had chosen an entire civilization or another large topic they may want to narrow it down to a more specific topic. Once students had one or two topics, I gave them three more minutes to write down everything they knew about the topic. Lastly, the class took three more minutes to discuss with a partner everything they had written about their subject. Their partner listened for what information they were missing about the topic. They then developed questions that their partner could use as guidance during research.
Tuesday– Tuesday was a pretty straight forward day. Students used the internet to research the answers to their questions. The wrote their facts on sticky notes and put their sticky notes in their notebooks.
Wednesday– We started the class by looking over our sticky notes with a partner. They grouped their sticky notes into piles. Each pile represented a separate sub category. They then labeled these categories. Any sticky notes left over were decided to be irrelevant to what they were creating. After organizing notes into groups we decided in which order the information should be presented. The next step was deciding how to percent the information.
I explained to the students that I would be calling out a different format in which authors present information every three minutes. When I called out the format they would switch to writing about their topic in that format. We wrote in the following formats: Newspaper article, poem, advice column, picture book, timeline, readers theater, etc… The class LOVED this activity. They loved it so much that I plan to use it by itself as a review of information.
They left class that day with the expectation that they would come to school tomorrow with a topic and a format in which they wanted to share about their topic.
Thursday– On Thursday students create an outline or proposal of what they planned to create.
Friday-Students wanted to create props, settings, books, etc… They didn´t seem to understand the need to create a rough draft. However, after much persuasion and explanations every student began to create rough drafts.
Stay turned next week for final presentations!