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Over three summers we created three unique products that have helped us build the best writer's notebook routine we've ever had in our classrooms. These 8 menus are one of those products, and they can be bought separately from this page, but you can also buy all three items as a bundle and save $5 using the following link: Our Writer's Notebook Bundle
This product is the third of three projects my wife and I created over three summers, and these menus work very well with our other two writer's notebook/workshop products (the Notebook Bingo Cards & the Sacred Writing Time Slides).
I am dedicated to adding more rigor and differentiation to my writing curriculum every year, and I certainly hope you are too; this product was the third and final tool we created for our Writer's Notebook routine, and it was the piece designed to up the rigor for the 10-25% of students who are in the top of your class. In my high school Language Arts classes when I was a student, I distinctly remember being one of the stronger writers in the class, and I never felt challenged by my teachers' journal prompts, lessons and worksheets, which I realize now were designed to challenge the middle of the bell-curve kids, not me. I was bored senseless in those classes, and those memories often inspire me to create tools like this one.
The Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards and the Sacred Writing Time Slides we also created are fun and engaging, but they're not designed to strategically promote rigor; these eight restaurant-themed choice menus are all about two things: 1) choice and 2) rigor.
My wife--Dena Harrison, also a talented writing teacher--and I both experienced such new excitement and commitment from our students with their Writer's Notebook during our first semester of implementing the Writer's Notebook Bingo Cards back in Spring of 2010, and we set out to make that excitement move in smart directions. Dena and I are both fortunate that a) we "roll-up" with our students, which allows us to be their teachers for more than one year and b) we both have learned how to differentiate instruction for our wide variety of learners. Over the summer of 2012, with the help of our colleague Jenny Hoy, we created a unique set of choice-driven menus that helped our strongest writers by:
1) providing a new and different pre-writing tool for those students who return to our classes after the Bingo Cards no longer feel challenging;
2) establishing a creative structure as well as a new level of scaffolding for our students who still needed help independently making good choices for the pieces they want to work on for our Writer's Workshop;
3) requiring more use of trait-inspired language from students who use the tool than the Bingo Cards do;
4) demonstrating how different pre-writing steps are needed for the three main purposes of writing: expository, persuasive or argumentative, and narrative.
You can freely access our original menu--The Italian Menu--using the free preview we've linked here. If your students respond well to the Italian menu's format and its challenges, we hope you'll be interested in purchasing the entire set of menus. We designed them to "speak" to those talented Language Arts students who are often bored during routines and regular class instruction; each of the eight menus has numerous challenges that would have spoken to me as a middle and high school writer who was often bored.
These Menus come with Eight Bonus On-line Lessons: My gifted students, who really love that I keep a writer's notebook too, take note of some of the challenges I give to myself during my own sacred writing time and ask me questions about my entries. Because so many of them were emulating my own writing challenges in their own notebooks, I decided to write up 8 of their favorite ones, which--of course--were all inspired by 8 of my favorite mentor texts. Each menu comes with a "Creative Salad," which is writer's notebook challenge for your more talented students. My kids love these challenges, and I hope yours will too. When you access the free preview below, be sure to check out the link to the online "Creative Salad"; you'll receive 8 links to lessons like this when you purchase the set of menus.