Language Arts; Writing
Writing Process Stage:
Students learn how to use story maps as a form of pre-writing.
Story mapping helps introduce the basic elements of storytelling and story writing: character(s), setting, problem, and solution. By using the provided graphic organizer, students begin to lay out and organize their ideas for stories into concrete steps. These steps are then the foundation, or the map, for the drafting stage.
- Various examples of maps
- Story of your choice
- Representative items
- Small bag
- Story map template
Bring in several samples of maps: road maps, world maps, school campus map, topographical maps, weather maps, etc. Highlight the parts of the maps: compass, key, symbols. If time permits, together create a map of the classroom from a bird’s eye view. Discuss the purpose of maps - maps help provide/give direction. Explain that all stories have parts, just like other maps.
- Choose a well-known story (common fairy tales work well).
- Reread the story if necessary.
- Lay out objects that represent the major elements in the story. For instance, for Little Red Riding Hood, you could have a plant or leaf to represent the woods setting, plastic fangs to represent the wolf, a piece of red fabric for Red Riding Hood, a basket to represent Red bringing food to her Grandma, and a stick/piece of wood to represent the woodcutter saving the day.
- Have students identify what each object represents and which story element it reflects.
- Put all the objects in a bag. Shake it up! Describe how all the elements are now jumbled - the bag of objects doesn’t clearly tell the story. If a stranger were to reach in the bag and pull out an object, would they know what it meant?
- Blaming the cumbersome and jumbled nature of the bag’s items, describe how a story can be better represented and mapped out using a simple graphic organizer known as a story map. This story map gives not only readers, but writers, an idea of the story’s direction by planning out the elements.
- Using the provided graphic organizer of the story map, have small groups work together to fill in the elements for the story map using the book you chose for the above discussion.
- Ask them to use words, phrases, and/or sentences to flesh out each story element.
- After the appropriate amount of time, come back together as a group and share what each group wrote in the story map sections.
- Explain how writers use story maps to begin outlining a new story before they actually write the story. Highlight that story maps are a type of pre-writing (part of the writing process).
- Ask students to begin brainstorming about their own stories.
- Students may begin writing in any section.
- They may use words, phrases, and/or sentences to fill out each main story element section.
- Come back together as a group and share the story maps completed as a group and/or completed individually.
- Display the story maps in a prominent place.
- Bulletin boards can be adorned with the other types of maps that were discussed.
- Younger students can use pictures and illustrations to fill out the story map.
- The story maps can be filled out in pairs (high-lows, using teacher aides/parent volunteers).
Somebody, Wanted, But, So
Language Arts; Writing
Writing Process Stage:
Students learn how to use Somebody, Wanted, But, So foldables as a form of pre-writing.
This lesson would underscore the basic components of any complete story. Every story revolves around a central problem, good or bad. Somebody wants something but there is a problem and so then it is resolved. Using a “foldable” graphic organizer, students will be able to spell out their story ideas accordingly. This skeleton or framework is then built upon in the drafting stage.
- Foldable template
Every story revolves around a central problem, good or bad. As a group, make a list of the types of good versus bad problems. Display suggestions on a T-chart; this chart can be posted later as story inspiration.
- Referencing several popular stories, review the stories’ central problems.
- Next, expand upon a couple by asking what was wanted, who was doing the wanted, and how the problem was resolved.
- Explain how any story can be summed up by simply thinking about Somebody (main character), Wanted (hopes/desires), But (central problem), So (resolution).
- Together, choose a story and solicit students’ input to fill out a large version of a Somebody, Wanted, But, So template. (If more practice is needed, this step could be used for small group practice.) Demonstrate how you lift the Somebody flap to then write about the main character underneath. Next, lift the Wanted flap to write about the main character’s hopes/desires. Continue with the BUT and the SO flaps.
- Demonstrate how one then can summarize the entire story by reading under each flap from left to right.
- Lastly, have each student create a foldable.
- Fold the provided template of 8.5” x 11” paper lengthwise (hot dog style) along the solid line.
- Cut vertically along the three dotted lines, thereby making four even-sized flaps. Make the three even cuts on the top fold only. Be careful not to cut beyond the solid line crease.
- Complete the following words: Somebody; Wanted; But; So
- Divide the class into small groups.
- Give each group a popular/well-known picture book.
- Using the story, each group should fill in their foldables accordingly.
- Share the summaries by having a reader from each group read under each flap from left to right.
- Emphasize that these foldables are a first step (pre-writing) in their writing process for the new stories.
- Explain how students now can use these foldables when they begin thinking about their own creative stories.
- Students may use pictures/illustrations to fill out the foldables.
- Have students make the foldables without using the provided printable.
Language Arts; Writing
Writing Process Stage:
Students learn how to web, brainstorm, in order to generate ideas and thoughts for creative writing.
Webbing is a way for students to unleash all their ideas without any constraints. It is a fabulous way to break through writer’s block. Students need to realize that not all ideas need to be utilized or incorporated in their writing, but that by brainstorming they can then pick the best of the best for their storylines. Students relish this kind of abandonment, yet truly need coaching and encouraging.
Begin with a picture or a quick sketch of a spider’s web and stick a spider smack dab in the middle. Discuss all that could be caught in the sticky strands, and jot down the ideas all around the web (list all the various insects; list other items: dust, leaves, dew, etc.). Debate which the spider would eat and which she may not. Ask why the spider may not decide to eat all of the items (not hungry, doesn’t like items, not spider food, etc.).
- Explain that one way to pre-write is to create a web of ideas. They may be random, they could be associated, they may be disjointed, or they may be cohesive.
- Pick a central idea (circus, school, ocean, sky), and write it in the middle of a large piece of paper or a board.
- Next, tell students that you are going to go around the room and each of them has to say the first (or second) thing that comes to mind when they think of that central idea.
- This rapid fire thinking is called “brainstorming”; the less serious thought, the better!
- As the students give their input, draw lines radiating from the central idea and note their thoughts within bubbles.
- Next, model how if you were to write a story about this idea, you might pick the ideas that you could incorporate into your story by starring/marking them. In order not to make students feel left out, you could mark others in another color to symbolize how you could take the story in yet another direction by incorporating other ideas.
- Using the provided webbing template, tell students that they are going to try webbing two times.
- First you are giving them a central story idea to write in the upper web’s middle.
- Explain that students will have thirty seconds only to write down anything that comes to mind as soon as you give that central idea. The ideas should go in any of the surrounding bubbles – order does not matter.
- Next, explain that you are giving them another central idea.
- This time, they must write down the associated thoughts while making their own radiating lines and/or bubbles.
- Encourage them to go back and star/mark the ideas which may work the best for a creative story.
Turn the tables and have the kids give you a prompt for webbing. Ask for a volunteer to think up a webbing topic. Ask another volunteer to time you for a minute. As soon as they shout, “Go!” write all you can in a web format to emphasize that more is better in this case!
- Provide webs with some associate thoughts noted.
- Demonstrate how to “cluster” ideas by elaborating on a thought by noting even more detail (i.e., central idea: circus; thought: clown; clustering notes: red nose, white face, big wig).