September 9, 2010

Writing Workshop Fun: Looping Stories

Last spring I attended a fantastic workshop called 101 Writing Mini-Lessons that changed my entire concept of teaching writing.  After I left, I vowed that this year I was going to teaching writing through a true Writing Workshop, using the Mini-Lesson, Writing Time, Sharing format.  So far this year it has been going great.
Last year, my mentor, Mrs. H, stressed the importance of using the first month of school to lay the foundation with procedural lessons as well as "ideas" lessons.  She said that before I worry about taking any pieces through the writing process all the way to publishing, I should get the kids started on a TON of pieces so they have an arsenal of ideas to pick up at any time.  So, I've been doing a bunch of fun ideas lessons, and loving every minute of it.
My awesome Writing Workshop accountability chart, custom made by the wonderful Amanda :)

Today's was one of my favorites, and one I took back with me from that workshop.  It's called "Looping Stories," and is basically quick-writing with a twist.  The students start with a 1 word topic and take 1 minute to write about that topic without stopping to think.  (I tell them PENCILS MOVING, EYES ON PAPER!!!!)  Then, when the minute is up, they need to stop writing and draw a line across the page sectioning that writing off from the rest of the page.  They then look over their writing, select a word that they included in that writing, circle it, and write it at the top of the next section of the page, below the line.  They take another minute to write about this new word/topic.  Repeat about 4 times.  After this they have 4 or 5 beginnings of stories/writing pieces.  They should then reread them and choose 1 to write more about.  Last year I had the kids cut that section out and tape it to the top of a blank page, but this year they just started it over on a new page.  Both work.  The kids like it though, and it's a great exercise in quick writing.  It's also a lot of fun to see how your topics evolve from 1 to the next!

Today I modeled it by starting with the topic food:

My favorite food is pancakes.  I especially like the blueberry pancakes that my dad makes.  He used to make them every Sunday when I was growing up.  I love to eat them/
STOP!!!  Even in mid-sentence.  I went back and chose the word "Dad" to write about next.

My dad is one of the best people I know.  He would do anything for me and my family.  He always helps my mom around the house, and helps me with whatever I need.  He is really good at/
STOP!!!  I chose the word "Family" to write about.

I love my family.  I have two brothers, Kevin and David....

You get the idea :)  I definitely recommend trying this activity to spice up writing instruction with something different!


  1. Hw has no commented on your post!!! Im trying to begin writers workshop...but incorporate it into my daily 5/ cafe mini lessons. So I'm kinda going at it on my own! This post was extremely helpful!!!

    Thank you thank you!

    This would also work great as a cooperative learning....have the students in groups of 4. They each begin writing on topic, you call time,they draw a line, and pass their paper to the right or left, the next person reads it, picks the next word, and writes, call time, repeat. Now they have 4 different story starters! Nice way to change it up!!!

  2. How awesome!! I loved your idea so much that I posted it on my blog:

  3. This lesson looks fun! I've always done quick writes but I love this twist! I think I'll use it tomorrow!

  4. I like the way you present this to students. This is a good way to have many different story starters that students can add to later on.

  5. I made a pdf template of this for folks to use. It can be found here:

  6. I love the chart. Thank you for sharing

  7. Great chart. Thanks for sharing.


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