Teachers of writing understand that books can be a powerful tool to inspire reluctant writers. One new (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2010) book that should find its way onto every writing teacher's shelf is Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan (Newbery Medal author of Sarah, Plain and Tall). This book is aimed at helping students, ages 8-12, to see themselves as writers; it promises to entice the hesitant student to test the waters and ease into writing.
I like to begin a writing period with a few words of wisdom...and often the best way to do that is to use the words of a well-known author like MacLachlan (or Cynthia Rylant or Jerry Spinelli or Ralph Fletcher). This sweet book is a gem for the writing class. Try reading your class just a chapter or two from it at the beginning of each writing period and then watch what happens!
This is a 12-page, chapter-by-chapter framework that I designed to help students focus and be involved as they listen to the teacher read. I have them read over the questions before I begin reading so that they will know what they will need to respond to.
An answer key is NOT provided for this booklet. The purpose of this activity is not to check for comprehension but to help students focus on the words of Ms. Mirabel and to carry away with them the essence of what she is trying to impart to the students: to see their lives as worthy of writing about and to see that writing comes from the heart. Teachers are encouraged to make this a reflective activity, not another grade for the grade book!
Created by Jean Martin. Once you have tried this out, I would love to have your feedback!
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