May 31, 2012

Writing Workshop: Conflict + Resolution

I love teaching all of the writing genres through Writing Workshop, but my favorite part of the year is Story Writing.  My kiddos write stories all year long when we aren't focusing on one of the Big Three genres (exp, narr, pers), but I like to take a few weeks in winter or sprint and spend some time working on writing quality stories--you know, that actually have a plot and don't end with "to be continued..."!  In reading some of the kiddos' writing this year, I decided that the most important thing for us to nail down in our stories was that they needed a clear conflict and resolution.  Sounds obvious, but I can't tell you how many stories I've read in my short time as a teacher that have neither.

During Day 1, I reviewed the term "conflict" with my students and pulled out a bunch of picture books and novels we'd already read together this school year.  Quickly, I held them up one at a time and had the kids identify what the main conflict had been in the book.  We also differentiated the difference between the "Big Conflict" that guides the plot, and smaller conflicts that make up the rising action.  For example, in My Rotten Red Headed Older Brother by Patricia Polacco, although during the story Tricia eats a bunch of sour rhubarb and falls off a merry go round, the main conflict is that she and her brother do not get along.  The kids did great with this, and we recorded several of the conflicts on an anchor chart.  Next, we brainstormed some possible conflicts to include in their writing.  I reiterated to them that a conflict isn't always a fight--it might be a big problem, it might be a little problem, or it might just be a goal.  Then, during Writing Workshop, I went around to each student and briefly (I mean BRIEFLY) checked in with them to ensure that their story had a clear conflict.  I recorded the title of their project and the conflict in my notebook.
On Day 2, we went back to those stories and the anchor chart and briefly identified how each conflict was resolved.  We added the resolutions to the anchor charts, and I checked in with students again to see if they had a plan to resolve their conflict.  If they did, I recorded it, and if not, I starred their name in my notebook to remind myself to check in again in a few days.  I always do writing conferences during Writing Workshop, but I always seem to "miss" a student or two...what I mean is, I completely forget to check in with them, either because they are writing in some weird corner of the room or because my hands are full with ultra needy students, until the end of the project only to find that they are completely off track.  This was so helpful for me, and by the end of the drafting stage, all of the kids had stories with a clear plot, including conflict and resolution.

Next time I do these lessons, I will also include a day on climax.  It's something we've discussed at length in shared and guided reading, but I never taught the kids to build a "hot spot" into their writing... #keepsinmindfornextyear...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...