June 7, 2011

The Power of 3

I guess running right before bed maybe isn't the best idea for me--I can't sleep!!!  Even though tomorrow is only a 2 hour day at school, I certainly wasn't planning on staying up past 1am!  Oh well...  I thought I would make use of this extra time to blog about one of last week's writing workshop lessons.

Last year I attended a fabulous professional development that introduced me to the WONDERS of the Writing Workshop, with which I immediately fell in love.  We received a great booklet of mini-lesson ideas that I flip through from time to time when I need some inspiration.  Last week I happened to stumble across the Power of 3 mini-lesson.  Are you familiar with the Rule of 3 in reading and writing?  After a bit of googling I discovered that this is a HUGE thing!  I even saw links to articles on comedic acting and professional fiction writing.  Needless to say, this is a pretty valuable writing skill!

The Rule of 3 is pretty simple: to make your writing more interesting and memorable, sprinkle some "3s" throughout.  This might mean repeating a word or phrase 3 times, including sets of 3s throughout (characters, etc.), or listing 3 things using commas in a series.


  • The baby cried. --> The baby cried and cried and cried.
  • We ran errands --> We went to the post office and to the grocery store and to the library.
  • Mary was intelligent --> Mary was smart, wise, intelligent.
You get the idea.  Because I LOVE using Mentor Texts in Writing Workshop, I introduced the Rule of 3 to the kiddos by telling them I was going to share a SECRET of great writing with them.  I told them that this is something that great writers know to do in their writing, and because all of THEM are great writers, they should be let in on the secret.  I explained the Rule of 3, calling it the "Power of 3" for a little extra fun. (Because 5th graders aren't so big on rules...) :)  I shared the examples with them and made a quick anchor chart on the easel.  Then, I challenged them to be on the lookout for the 3s during a short read aloud.  

Our mentor text?  Kindergarten classic, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.  One thing I've learned this year in my Writing Workshop pilot has been that sometimes little kids' books do a GREAT job of demonstrating a specific skill.  In this case, Lilly is a perfect book to model the rule of 3.  I had the kids pay close attention and count on their fingers (holding hands up in the air) all of the times they heard a set of 3.  We stopped and discussed, then I challenged them to try to use the Rule of 3 in their writing project.

I liked this lesson and think that it presents a SIMPLE, QUICK way to really elevate writing.  Another Writing Workshop win!

Interested in reading about some of my other Writing Workshop mini-lessons?


  1. Funny I haven't ever heard of the rule of 3 but it makes total sense!!

  2. cute! i love this! The power of 3 even sounds exciting to me as an adult :)


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