Like I said in an earlier post, our Standards of Learning Writing Test is coming up at the beginning of March. Our kids are expected to write a paper that is organized, elaborated, displays voice, word choice, and uses decent mechanics. Easy enough? HA! The first writing test in Virginia is in fifth grade, which means....most kids haven't written since second grade, before they started taking SOLS. Most students come to us not even being able to write a paragraph. Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us!
Right now, we're in the middle of a hardcore review session. Today's lesson: brainstorming. Taken from Beth Estill's Writing Professional Development my teammates and I attended recently, we played a little brainstorming game today. I thought I'd share. The kids had a blast. You can of course tweak this to whatever brainstorming model you use (4 square, bubble maps, outlines, whatever).
Here's what happens: Put the kids into groups of four. You give each of the four kids a different topic on a different color sheet of paper. See Beth Estill's example:
Top box is the main idea. Next level down (1st box) are reasons to support the topic. Second and third boxes are supporting details. The long box at the bottom is a closing sentence.
Round 1: Today, I gave each kid one to two minutes to fill in ONE box. Then they switch clockwise. (If they had the pink paper first, now they have the blue) Round 2: Give them some time to read what the person before them put. Then start again: one to two minutes to fill in ONE more box. Switch. Round 3, 4, 5, etc. You continue this over and over, until the all four papers are completely filled out. Give them a few minutes at the end to revise their brainstorming. I let them decide which one was the best and then share it with the whole class on the document camera. Here are some more pics....