Today is one of my favorite instructional days. I save this assignment for a day that is tough for students because it allows them to combine writing and creativity. Additionally This year, this lesson is being taught on a Friday that is the end of our mandatory state testing. It also happens to be the Friday before Mother's Day.
As students enter class, they will get out their warm up page and answer the prompt:
Today you are going to pay homage to someone you care about through the gift of words. I want you to think about the role of language in your life. For three minutes, write about the best letters, advice, pep talks you have had. What makes them so memorable? (W.9-10.10)
As a class, we will discuss our answers and the role of language in our lives. I ask students to do this because I want them to think about words as a gift.
Before class starts, I put construction paper, glue, scissors, markers, glitter, etc. on our classroom table so that all materials are ready to go. I distribute the A GIFT OF WORDS assignment and explain to students that they are writing a narrative to develop real experiences or events using effective technique and well-chosen details (W.9-10.3). The assignment also asks students to use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of their memories (w.9-10.3d).
I will encourage students to work on creating their homage to someone special. They are welcome to create their gift of words to their mother or mother figure, or they may chose someone else. The decision is up to them. As students are working, I will walk around and read the rough drafts. I'll make sure students understand that creating something is part of the assignment, but it compliments the words, which is our focus. This video explaining creativity in the Common Core classroom will help explain how I balance the rigor of the standards and creative time for students.
While more and more students spend time texting and tweeting, they are less inclined to enjoy longer writing assignments. I've discovered that to pull them in and encourage them as writers, I have to give students lots of opportunities to write in a variety of lengths with choices on topic. Today's assignment is a great way for students to practice a form of Narrative writing and give them choice in their topic. I was surprised today when some students were really hesitant. I thought that the timing was perfect for this assignment. Mother's Day is this weekend, students tested this week and this assignment fits perfectly with our unit. However, in my district, many, many students come from single family home. Some students felt intimidated by the students who were creating gifts for their mothers. When I do this assignment in the future, I won't put it right before Mother's Day.
To conclude our great class time today, I want each student to identify their favorite line. I think it's really important for students to be reflective of their writing and thinking. I ask students to identify their favorite line because they need to brag on themselves. As class is coming to an end, I will walk around and ask each student to read to me their favorite line. Students will then take their projects home.