Monday, November 18, 2013

Writer's Workshop

Students in Linda's Writer's Workshop have been analyzing writing by several excellent authors and applying what they learn to their own stories.  

In week one, we read the first two pages of Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare, by Patricia Polacco.  In this compelling opening, the main character uses metaphors to help describe her brother,
" He was the black hole in my universe.  The embarrassment of my life.  The frog in my punch bowl. The spider in my cereal. The wart on my cookie. The slug in my jello. The snake in my soup...."

Students discussed how this was a much more effective way to hook in the reader than just to say, "My brother was awful."  

In week two we looked at a few pages from chapter 11 of Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo.  In this chapter, the author describes a dog's fear of thunderstorms.  We discovered that the author doesn't just tell the reader that the dog is scared.  She shows us how he reacts and uses interesting words like "pathological fear" and "sproi-i-ing" as well as dialogue like " Winn Dixie came shooting back out of my room went running right past me and I screamed, 'Daddy, watch out!'"

Students have all finished a writing plan and started on their own story.  We have three more weeks to work on writing, editing and revising our writing.  Our goal is to have a final draft before Christmas.  Some students may need to work on their writing at home in order to meet that goal. 

This week we are going to spend some time looking at the way author Tomie dePaola uses dialogue in his book, Big Anthony.  We should discover that writing dialogue into your story adds the illusion of reality.   It also makes reading easier by breaking up large blocks of writing and adding white space to the page.  Writing dialogue is also a great way for a writer to reveal details about characters, share secrets and develop relationships between characters among other things.   (from Eight Good Reasons To Use Dialogue by Jenna Kernan)

Remember to ask your child about their writing.  Encourage them to get their ideas down on paper without worrying too much about mechanics to start with.  That keeps the student's creativity flowing.  They can go back and edit to fix spelling, capitalization and punctuation.  Happy Writing!

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