Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tall Tales From the Front

Final drafts of students’ tall tales are due Friday. How do you know if their tall tale is satisfactory or not? First, take a look at the Tall Tale Checklist that I sent home yesterday.

If you didn’t see it for whatever reason, you can view it here:

One of the things we did a lot of in class is examine Tall Tales that have been written by others. We read published books such as John Henry and Thunder Rose. And we also read samples written by other students. These were meant to serve as a guide and model for them to follow.

If you’d like to take a look at another one we read, you can view it here:
It’s a bit on the long side, but it amuses me, so that's all that matters.

Since it’s their first exploration of a fiction writing genre, I’m not expecting masterpieces. But what I will be looking for is creativity and the ability to follow the checklist.

As you help your child complete their draft, you can ask the following questions as you work together:
  • Is the beginning of the story creative and filled with silly exaggeration?
  • Does the writer reveal the main character’s super-human abilities in the beginning of the story?
  • Is there a lot of action (examples of situations where the character uses his/her powers) in the story?
  • Is there a BIG problem that the character has to solve? (examples: a bad guy to defeat, a competition to win, people to save from something)

If the answer to these is yes and the story makes sense and is a bit on the silly, light-hearted side, then it’s probably a winner.

I really enjoy fiction writing and I think we picked a good project for our first try. I am really noticing that their writing skills are improving. The concepts we’ve been practicing all year are sinking in and becoming routine for them.

With writing workshop, I “begin with the end in mind.” I know what I want them to accomplish by the time they leave my room in fifth grade. Everything we do along the way is meant to get us closer to that end. As a parent(I’m one of those, too), and as a teacher it can be hard sometimes to adopt this philosophy. We want everything to be perfect right away. But the writing process just doesn’t lend itself to that kind of learning.

So rest assured and know that your child is an eager writer. They are working hard every day in writing workshop and I’m working hard to teach them. I’m conferencing with them regularly to give them individualized instruction and guide them along the way.There’s much more to say on this topic, but I’ll leave it for that now. I hope this makes sense and I hope you know that I’m always willing to talk about this or any of your other concerns.

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