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Read Arounds

It's that time of year-the time when 7th graders begin to ask for recommendations for next year's electives-classes like  journalism.  I received an email from a student asking me for such a recommendation, and in her message she said, "You keep saying that we should write for larger audiences.  That's why I want to take journalism next year!"  I was elated!  As stated in a previous post, one of my goals is for students to write for a larger audience-not just the teacher.  

This week students had the opportunity to do just that.  After finishing "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James  Thurber and analyzing his techniques, students wrote their own Walter Mitty adventures.  Students had the opportunity to work alone, with a partner, or in a group three. Once again, I love giving students choices! Students worked on their stories in class for several  periods, during which time they barely spoke to me!  They were so engrossed in writing their stories.  Of course, I walked around and checked in with them, but it was obvious that they didn't need me!  

Once the stories were finished the did three things:

1) Posted them to our Kidblog
2) Submitted them to turnitin.com for feedback from me
3) Shared a copy with me through Google Docs with a secret name at the top

The following day students participated in a read around. I printed two copies of each story shared with me. I arranged students into eight groups of about four students each.  Each group had to appoint a Paper Passer (who would pass the set of papers to the next group), as well as the Recorder (who would write down the secret name written on  the group's favorite story).  I made sure to explain to students ahead of time that they were not to pass papers until I gave them permission and also made certain they knew which group to pass the papers to!  This really helped the activity run flawlessly.

Since we only had a total of about 15 stories, I had four groups read each  class set of papers.  It was interesting listening to them come to a decision about their favorite story.  They would say things like, "This one was really funny." Or, "This one is really creative and has good dialogue."  

Once students finished, we tallied the votes on the board.  The winners were awarded a treat, as well as bragging rights. I think Thurber would be impressed with many of the stories!

Here are a few of the favorites:


Walter at Disneyland

Walter's Space Mountain Adventure

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