Monday, April 29, 2013

The Stories of My Life (So Far)

Please indulge me for a moment while I say what a GLORIOUS weekend was! I am hoping that Mother Nature has finally figured it out and has sent that wicked winter packing!   Rumor has it that it will get near 80 degrees on Tuesday.  (I'm not going to dwell on the forecasted high temp for Thursday....(49)....and live in the moment.)

So...what is the first thing that I did with this beautiful weather?  (Other than avoid being inside...)  I went out and bought FLOWERS!!!  As we walked around the garden center at Lowe's, my husband was trying to ignore the fact that I would be paying good money for something that may freeze later this week.  But, like I said, I am living in the moment.  I didn't buy too many, just enough to add some color to my patio.  Aren't they pretty???


OK...back to reality.

I have been working hard to combine reading and writing experiences for my students this year.  After finishing our study of the Titanic and writing ourTitanic newspapers, we are moving on to biographies.

First, I am having students research a famous person who is no longer alive.  Why someone who is no longer alive?  Because I don't think I can handle any more biography projects about Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, or one of the boys from One Direction.  :) 

I found this great Biography Project from Mrs. Renz that has absolutely everything my students need to complete this research project.  After researching their person using three different sources, they will prepare an Important Poem and speech about their person.  (The project from Mrs. Renz has a lot more that you can do with this unit, but I am pressed for time so I just pulled these two activities to use.)  This project will also help us meet our Common Core requirements for Speaking and Listening, which is an added bonus!

To incorporate writing, I am having my students write their own autobiographies.  I am calling this project "The Stories of My Life (so far...)". 

We have been working very hard all year to practice "Show, Don't Tell" writing strategies.  Some students are REALLY good at this!  Others are struggling with what this means.
  I found this great video by one of my writing idols, Barry Lane, that teaches about slowing down our writing and "Exploding a Moment."  (Just saying that phrase out loud definitely gets my kids attention and makes writing seem more interesting for them!)

After watching this video in class, we did a shared writing together where we slowed down an incident that happened in the hallway right before writing class.  Using our SMART board, we wrote about how one student was making a noise in line and I was trying to figure out who was doing it.  The kids had a lot of fun writing together and it was great practice "exploding a moment."

So what do exploding moments have to do with writing our autobiographies??? 

Well, I have decided that I wanted to take autobiography writing to the next level.  I don't want this project to be "The STORY of my life,"  I want it to be "The STORIES of my life."  In other words, we are going to avoid the whole "I was born on ___ in ___.  My mom is ___ and my dad is ___ .  I like to ___.  I don't like to ___.  When I grow up, I want to be a ___.  THE END."

I have given the kids four "chapters" they will write about:

The Early Years
Growing Up
My Interests
Looking Forward to My Future
Each of these chapters will contain at least one "story" in which they explode a moment.  So far, we have been working on our drafts of each chapter.  Some students are really having a GREAT time with this (see below), and others will need more coaching this week.  :)  I will keep you posted on how this goes.

If you would like a copy of my planning packet, you can click here.  If you would like a copy of the final project that will be bound into a book, you can get it here.  Please let me know how it goes or if you have any suggestions!
In the mean time, I hope you have a great week with many fun "stories." ;)


  1. This looks like a fabulous assignment. Thanks for sharing. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. That flower pot is beautiful! I need to get my planting done soon. Well, not me specifically- I am a brown thumb. I guess what I meant is I need to get my husband to get the planting done soon. :)

    Caffeine and Lesson Plans


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