“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” —Mark Twain
This week the 3rd-5th grade class is concluding our "Neighborhood Maps" writing project, which asked the children to draw their neighborhood --with the scope and scale of their neighborhood determined by the students -- and then tell the story of something memorable that happened to them in their neighborhood.
We do a lot of writing in our class. We often take the "first thought" approach, encouraging children to write their first thoughts, or rough drafts, without becoming preoccupied with the writing conventions (spelling, punctuation, etc.). When we worry that our spelling isn't perfect, we tend to shut down our creativity and intellect. Yet good writers and readers know that the ability to distinguish between a semicolon and colon, or to properly capitalize our sentences, is much less important than the ability to share our memories, feelings, and thoughts in writing. So "first thought" rough drafts are generally our style.
However, Neighborhood Maps asked for more, because the students were ready for it. After writing their rough drafts, students were then tasked to revise their story ("Does it make sense? Have I said everything I needed to say? Did I use the most interesting words?"), and finally, to edit their story in a final draft. The children were encouraged to focus only on the story for the rough draft and revision, and then, with teacher support, to include standard spelling, capitalization, and punctuation in the final draft.
Rainbow finished his Neighborhood Map Writing Project first! And, better yet, he agreed to share his writing process on the blog! Thank you, Rainbow, for sharing your story and your writing.
#1 Rainbow drew a picture of Hope Mountain on fire.
#2 The Rough Draft. He knew he wanted to write about the fire and described, "One day there was a fire on the bottom of Hope Mountain," but wasn't sure what else to say.
#3 The Revision. To help Rainbow develop the story, we talked about the fire and he realized there were details in his oral version of the story that would add more imagery to his written story.
#4 Second Revision! Rainbow didn't need to make two revisions, but as he continued to work on his story, he became more attached to telling a good tale. After completing this revision, he decided to rewrite his story one more time, to make it "just so."
#5 Final Draft. In his final version of the story, we learn that the fire started small but spread quickly, there were helicopters flying nearby, and in Rainbow's experience, the fire ended abruptly ("One day I just looked up at the mountain and the fire was out."). In the process of writing and rewriting his story multiple times, Rainbow's telling of the Hope Mountain Fire comes alive with details and imagery.
Our Neighborhood Map stories are "published" on the classroom wall, if you'd like to stop by for a read. Thanks to the Oregon Writing Project at Southern Oregon University for inspiring Neighborhood Maps (SOU Oregon Writing Project https://inside.sou.edu/owp/index.html, Oregon Writing Project http://www.oregonwritingproject.com/, and National Writing Project https://www.nwp.org/).
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