Monday, October 13, 2014

Haunted House Writing...Beautiful Beginnings/Hooks {Part 2}

If you didn't get to see or read Part HERE.  

Now that my students have finished their 5-senses circle plans, we got to tackle one of the best parts of these stories...the beginning!  Since they are writing for 8th graders, their creative juices flow like mad because they want to reel in the attention of teenagers.  We all know...and they will attest to this since so many of them have teenage siblings and hard it is to keep teenagers entertained.  Ha!  

So, bring on the Beautiful Beginnings mini-lesson (thank you to my fellow teacher and pal, Ella Maya!) and anchor chart!!  

We actually already did our main lesson on this last month when they were writing their Superhero narratives.  But I like to use this opportunity to rewrite a whole new set of Beautiful Beginnings just to show them how much more they can do besides their typical (and I am not kidding you when I say typical)...hence why we have the Banned Beginnings side of our anchor chart in our classroom.

Let's just take a look at that Banned Beginnings side for a hot minute.  All of those came from writing my students have actually done.  After looking at their district benchmark testing and initial writing samples...these are the beginnings they over use...over and over again.  Sigh.  We've already had many many students trying to start their story with, "One spooky Halloween night..."  Gah!  Hence, this repeated mini-lesson on how to use those Beautiful Beginnings or hooks.  

I found my version of this chart from last year on my iPhone and I think those beginnings were waaaaaaaaay better!  But after modeling this, my students were already back at it getting rid of that boring, "One night..." lead.  Ick!  

Bring on the adjectives list!  Since they would be starting on their drafts, I wanted to make sure we interacted with the Adjectives list I include in the unit on Teachers Pay Teachers HERE.  

I ask my students to individually read through the list and mark 5-6 adjectives they have never seen or heard before.  Then, we do a sort of poll by raising our hands for each word.  The words the majority of the class are curious about are those that I highlight.  We bust out the dictionaries, just to get some extra reference source practice in.  I don't have them look up every single word because that would just waste a ridiculous amount of I do like to use context clues and funny or scary scenarios to help them get the gist.  From there they definitely start attaching themselves to certain words they really want to use in their own writing.

And then from there I set them free to let those creative juices flow through their arms on to their paper.  And just like their planning stage...their heads stay down and pencils rapidly scratch across the paper the entire writing period.  I can't get enough out of walking around to stop and read their beginnings and seeing their ideas on paper!

Many students like to wait and use the adjectives until they revise or edit.  But I did have a large handful who wanted to tackle them as they were drafting.  Either way, I love not seeing the word "spooky" or "scary" overused.