The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 64

Are you feeling as if you’re stuck in an episode of the Worst Books in America? Don’t let your next writing lesson get Chopped! This article will use cooking show inspired interactive writing ideas perfect for your classroom! In this article Throw Down with Julie and Colleen, we will Unwrap how to use popular and newly published children’s literature to cook up the perfect recipe for encouraging your students to write like authors. In your Cut-Throat Classroom, pencils will be flying and pages will be turning as your students go head-to-head as writers in their very own Bookpage Wars! At the end of the day, they will devour their own Good Treats of writing and you will be proud you helped inspire the Next Book Network Stars!

To Unwrap our article from the very beginning, we began with inspiration from Ruth Culham’s The Writing Thief in which she offers writing ideas for all levels of readers using her 6+1 Writing Traits. Culham presents titles to use as mentor texts and matches them to writing strategies ready to teach to your students so they may “ape the greats” and use the style of the author as a model for their own writing. Patricia Reilly Giff echoes this idea in her book Writing with Rosie when she states, “As writers, every time we read, we almost use a magnifying glass to see how the author told her story” (p. 65). Both of these authors understand the value in using the craft of an author to serve as a unique model and mentor for your student writers.

Many teachers find themselves in a writing rut. Much like at home when we continue to cook the same tried and true recipes, at school we tend to gravitate to the writing ideas or story starters we always use and share the same books we know and love. While that may be okay, it is easy to get burned out, causing your lessons to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Instead, we hope to offer you the recipe to remedy that disaster!

Our recipe offers 4 simple steps:

1) Look at the author’s style.

2) Decide his/her purpose for writing.

3) Follow the recipe...but,

4) Add your own secret ingredient!

For step one, we recommend following the ideas of Culham and Giff. Offer your students a variety of texts then encourage them to really study the craft of the chosen author. Next, help your students determine the purpose of the author. We like to use the PIE acronym--persuade, inform, or entertain. Determining their purpose for writing will help the students consider their own audience and purpose for writing. Next, assist your students in using the model of the expert author to write their own version following the “recipe” offered by the author. However, we do not want their writing to be exactly like the authors, so lastly, we help them find their own voice and embolden them to add their own special touch

Like any healthy eater selects food from all parts of the food pyramid, we offer a book genre pyramid to offer a wide variety of genres for your students to sample. Sometimes students read deeply in one genre rather than trying a wide range of genres. They act like picky eaters, sticking to just their favorites, when we know the best reading diet includes books from all genre groups! Teachers need to




Author Interview

Lit Look