What We Know About Writers
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
As the Writing Workshop launches at the beginning of the school year, it is important for the students to truly think of themselves as writers. In this lesson, the students interview each other and parents to observe why and when people write. The children build on prior knowledge and begin to view themselves as talented writers.
- Determine what they already know about writers
- Interview each other and parents to find out about writers
- Conclude what makes a writer
- Chart paper and markers
- A Writer's Interview (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
Create a T-chart on chart paper. Label one side "What We Know About Writers" and the other side "NOW, What We Know About Writers."
Step 1: Gather the students on the carpet or in a group area. Discuss writing and what they already know about writing from last year.
Step 2: Create a list of ideas that the students generate regarding what they know about writers (i.e., writers write rough and final drafts). Write as many ideas as they come up with.
Step 3: Describe and model how to interview someone. Discuss the definition and goals of an interview. Model the interview process with a student about a topic other than writing. Show clearly the aspects of listening and writing important answers down. Explain that this is the same process they will go through with partners in a moment. Remind them of key question words: what, when, why, where, and how.
Step 4: Distribute the Writer's Interview handout. Partner the students up, and allow them to ask and answer the questions. Inform the students that they will be sharing what they learned in a moment, so they should take good notes.
Step 5: Regroup on the carpet and discuss answers to the questions. Add any new ideas about writers to the second column of the T-chart entitled "NOW, What We Know About Writers." Lead the discussion with questions that promote observations. "Why does the person you interviewed use writing?" "When does he/she write?" "How is writing helpful to that person?"
Step 6: Explain that for homework tonight the students are going to be conducting the same interview with a parent or older family member. Remind them to take notes.
Step 7: The next day, regroup to discuss the findings from homework. Add new ideas and information to the T-chart. Make overall conclusions.
Supporting All Learners
When partnering your students, take into consideration their personalities and learning styles. Match a stronger learner with one who might need more help. Make sure all directions are clear for homework so that all students can participate.
Interviewing a family member really allows the parents to feel part of the classroom from the beginning of the year. An interview about reading might be beneficial as well. It allows the students to view their parents as learners.
- Peer interview
- Family interview for homework
Ask questions of yourself and the lesson:
- What went well?
- What didn't?
- Did the students come to class with a lot of prior knowledge from last year?
- Did the activity help them grow as learners?
- How could you change the lesson to better suit the needs of your class?
- Read over the family interviews to make sure the students understood the interview process.
- Ask and monitor for understanding during group discussions.