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Using Favorite Authors to Inspire Student Writing

It's rare that I post about something before I've tried it, but I couldn't resist. It's also rare that I can claim an idea as  100% mine, but this is all mine (maybe I should wait until I try it before I claim it as my idea)!   Currently, my students are participating in book clubs.  This provides an excellent opportunity to weave in some fun activities like mentor sentences, punctuation, and narrative writing.  My son, who also happens to be in my class, is currently reading
GREAT book for even the most RELUCTANT reader
Unstoppable by Tim Green.  He's not a big reader, but he loves this book.  The other night while sitting on the couch reading his book, he starting laughing.  "Mom, listen to this!"  He then  began to read a long, descriptive passage from the book that describes an angry coach.  Green  uses sensory language, vivid verbs, and figurative language to create a vivid portrait of this man. My son stated   that the way Tim Green writes is one of the main reasons he is enjoying the book so much.  

 I knew I had to figure out a way to weave his discovery into a lesson for all of my students.  So for homework last week,  students had to find a descriptive paragraph from their book club book. I asked them to type it into a Google doc. Honestly,  I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to have them do with the paragraph, but an idea was born while I sweated on the elliptical!  Its inspiration comes from that of using mentor texts and sentences with students. 

 Here's the plan:

1) Students type a passage from their book club book that "speaks" to them due to its description, imagery, and word choice.

2)  Students rewrite the passage in one or two sentences using strictly telling language.

3) Students use the two "telling" sentences to inspire their own, original descriptive passage.

I have already selected two passages from published novels to use as examples for the first part of the assignment.  I have also written the telling sentences, as well as my original, descriptive passages.   I plan to model the process for my students. My goal is to get beautiful, powerful writing from my students inspired by an author they love! 

My next post will be an update on how the activity went, as well provide you with   the passages I used to model the assignment for my students.  

Wish me luck!

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