Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Writing with Purpose

Like many others out there, the events in Boston this past week have left me saddened and running to hug my kids a little tighter.  I came across this picture of Mr. Rogers and thought it was extremely appropriate for this week:

I think that is an important thing to remember, especially when our students come to us with their concerns after a tragedy like the one in Boston.  While it is so easy to focus on the scary stuff of events like this, it is important to remember that there were so many people running towards the chaos to help.  I think that if we focus on the helpers and not on the bad guys, it will make this tragedy a little easier to live through.  God bless all the helpers out there!  :)

This week's Workshop Wednesday with Jivey is all about sharing our favorite writing mini-lesson.  Thanks to Jivey for hosting this fun linky party!  As you may have figured out, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE writing, so this one is right up my alley. :)

Whenever possible, I try to incorporate food into my lessons.  Why?  Because the kids LOVE it and it gets them motivated!  I have a favorite mini-lesson that is used to practice author's purpose that involves one of my favorite treats - donuts!

We spend a lot of time discussing author's purpose in reading, but students tend to think that it doesn't apply to their own writing.  They don't see themselves as authors that have to follow the same rules that "real" authors do.  Oh, how wrong they can be!

I begin by passing out a small powdered donut to each student.

Before my kiddos can munch on their donut, I tell them that they have to write about their donuts using one of the author's purposes - persuade, inform, and entertain. I partner kids up into groups of two or three and assign one of the purposes.  After some giggles, they get down to business. 

It is always entertaining to read what they write and the kids have a great time doing it!  Here are some examples:

Persuade:  "Science has proven that eating donuts is not only bad for your health, they are bad for your self-esteem.  Hundreds of people are spotted every day walking around with white powdered frosting on their chins and down the front of their shirts from run away powdered sugar.  It even gets on the front of their black pants and won't come off.  They get laughed at.  This makes them feel bad about themselves, which only makes them eat more donuts.  So do your waistline and your self-esteem a favor and skip the donuts.  Eat an egg."

Inform:  "Do you know why donuts have holes in the middle?  Donuts have been around for centuries.  As you know, the older kitchens were not able to cook as well as our new kitchens with microwaves and pizza ovens.  In the old days, it was hard to fry food to get it to cook.  Donuts have to be fried.  To avoid having raw dough in the middle of the donut, the inside was taken out so the donut could cook all the way thorough and that's how the donut got a hole in the middle."

Entertain:  "Knock, knock." "Who's there?"  "Donut."  "Donut who?" "Donut you think my joke is funny?"

(OK, that last one is kind of bad....but you get the idea!)

One of the things that I like best about this activity (aside from being able to eat donuts as a call of duty for teaching the lesson!) is that it is a great way to help kids make a connection to themselves as authors.  When I conference with my students, one of my questions is to always ask what their author's purpose is in a particular piece of writing.  I am happy to say that after completing this lesson, identifying their purpose in writing comes easier and easier.

Head on over to Jivey's blog to check out other wonderful writing ideas!  Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great rest of your week!


  1. What a great idea!! Totally stealing this!! :) thanks for linking up!
    ideas by jivey

  2. I love teaching with food! This is a great idea - I can't wait to use it!

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  3. I love an excuse to bring donuts to school! I will have to do this :)

  4. This is a great idea. My kids love it when we do something that involves food! I saw from your previous post that you will be becoming a National Writing Fellow this summer. I did that the summer of 2011 in PA, you are going to love it! It totally transformed the way I teach writing. I'm actually a coach for the local writing fellow program here. I'm your newest follower. I look forward to reading about your journey.
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  5. I think this is such a cute idea! It makes me want powdered donuts.

    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack
    Balancing the Backpack

  6. OMG! I love this idea! How fun! And you're absolutely right... food is an excellent motivator for our kids. If only I could afford to keep feeding my little hungry hounds!


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