Bicycles Class Writing Celebration

To culminate our unit on narrative writing we wrote “small moment stories” which were detailed true stories from our own lives.  To cap this off, my class had a writing celebration and invited family and friends to join us for a reading.  

The process leading up to the celebration – choosing a story, revising, editing, publishing and practicing reading it out loud – took about three weeks.  But in reality, the students had been working the entire trimester towards the moment of the celebration. When students have an audience for their writing, they are invested and engaged, and that is exactly what happened on Friday.

The morning of the writing celebration, I asked students to name what they had learned in Writing Workshop over the trimester.  They came up with this list:

In writing this trimester we learned about…

  • writing flash drafts
  • using mentor texts
  • writing good leads
  • writing good endings
  • using a storyteller’s voice
  • reading with expression
  • when to start new paragraphs
  • when/how to use punctuation
  • developing the heart of the story
  • using dialogue
  • using neat handwriting
  • how to find ideas for true stories
  • correct casing
  • tips for spelling
  • using emotion
  • including detailed descriptions
  • making big revisions
  • editing writing to make it easier to read
  • using checklists to assess our own writing

When we looked at the list together, we realized that, in just a one or two-page story, the students had used dozens of strategies and techniques they had learned over the course of the semester.  This is a huge achievement for beginning writers!

As the time for the writing celebration approached, the students were getting very excited.  They cleaned and decorated the classroom, writing signs that said, “We’re glad you’re here!” and “Write every day!”  The students’ families came in, and each student read aloud their story, as the adults jotted down compliments on post-its.  When everyone had read their piece, we all enjoyed some snacks as the adults attached their post-its to each students’ “compliment sheet.”  It felt so good to show off what we know to a supportive community.

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Melanie Berlin

is a classroom teacher on the K-2 team. Before moving to Chicago, Melanie lived in Philadelphia and worked for five years as lead kindergarten teacher at Mastery Charter Mann Elementary School. Previous to that, Melanie lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and taught at an independent school in Oakland, California. Melanie has her B.A. in psychology with a minor in urban education from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her teaching degree from San Francisco State University with a focus on social justice in education.

In her free time, Melanie loves playing ultimate Frisbee, drinking coffee, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and baby daughter.