Here are some reinforcement activities I use after I have taught my initial paragraph writing lesson. * See blog post dated 6/2/2011*
- I hand out strips of green, orange and red paper and students write their paragraphs on the strips before pasting them into their books. I usually only hand out the green strips, and students get the next strip once the green topic sentence has been approved by me. At this point, following an introduction to Mrs Gangalooly, I get them to write about a neighbour, a friend or a sibling (of course I promise I will never show their siblings what they have written about them…giving them total “writer’s licence” to be creative.)
2. We play paragraph pass. Each writer (including me) picks a card from a pile. Each card has a different topic sentence on it. The task is to read what has been written, add the next sentence making sure it fits in with the topic, and pass it on to the next person. These make great reading afterwards and I get the writers as a group to rate the paragraphs.
3. Lie paragraph: I read a paragraph I have written about myself to the students, telling them I have hidden two lies in the paragraph and they have to try guess what they are. (I always use my real age in the hope that some kids will think it is a lie and I am actually much younger than that…sigh.) Students then write their own paragraph with two lies in them. They love sharing them with the rest of the group…this is where it all gets exciting. Reluctant writers wanting to share their writing? I once taught a group who, during a “free choice lesson” at the end of a writing course, asked if they could go back to these paragraphs and share them with each other again…
4. Students write colour-coded paragraphs using green, orange and red markers/pens/pencils.
5. Cross out: Students are given paragraphs and have to find sentences that are out of place i.e. don’t belong in that paragraph.
6. Paragraph match up activity: Students are given one set of paragraphs and one set of topic sentences and have to match them up to each other. I like to get students to do this activity in pairs and have a mini competition.
7. Story starter box: Students dip their hands into a special box of story starters and write a paragraph on the topic they have chosen.
8. Descriptive paragraph: I take in a model car or my unusual box collection for students to write about.
9. What’s the next sentence?: If we have only a few minutes at the end of lesson, or need a quick warm up activity, students pick out a topic sentence and verbally share what their first orange sentence would be.
When students have mastered paragraph writing, only then do I move into the writing of great introductions. A bog post on this to follow soon.
Happy Writing and Inspiring!