Friday, September 8, 2017

Better Word Choice Using Pinduli

Ah, beginning of the year writing samples. They are the best, aren't they? {eye roll} It's clear that most kids have not picked up a pencil all summer long, let alone written words, and you can forget about stringing them together into a sentence. Usually by the time I have finished reading them I have laid my head down on my desk and groaned MORE THAN ONCE.

BUT, the beauty of the B.O.Y. writing sample? Everyone has room to grow and you can see all the amazing potential in each writer sitting in front of you each day. I especially love using mentor texts at the beginning of the year so that everyone can try something new each day in their writing. These amazing examples give every kid something to shoot for. Whenever we use a new mentor text, I always ask my students, "Did you see anything you could try?" and every hand goes up!

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Mentor Text Idea
Whenever my students need a refresher on improving their word choice, I turn to a trusted favorite: Pinduli by Janell Cannon.

Before we read, I have everyone grab their writer's notebooks and come down to the carpet with a pencil. (Yes, even in 5th grade I have them come to the carpet!) Each student finds the next clean page and gets their pencil ready. I ask them to listen carefully to the story and to record the words they hear that give them the best picture in their mind. At this point, they are only making a list, so they can use bullets to write the words down quickly. (Sometimes, I don't even show the pictures so that students can really create their own images in their minds.)

After we finish the book, we do a think-pair-share about the words. I ask them to choose one or two words from their lists and tell their partner why they chose those particular words. After their conversations, I ask them to think about the words they chose and why. Most kids say they enjoy how the words make the story clear, and how the words help them understand even better!

The last part of this activity (a freebie for you!) is to take some overused and boring words, and brainstorm/find words from the story to replace them. This graphic organizer can go into their writing folders as a reminder of some much better words to use! The students can do this while you read, or after - it's up to you! Click the picture below to grab your freebie.

I love to see how quickly these words appear in their writing. It makes the next writing sample MUCH easier to read.

Help for Hurricane Harvey Victims
As we all headed back to school, I read so many stories from teachers in Houston and the surrounding areas that were heartbreaking. I have so many friends from the Teachers Pay Teachers and online teaching community who were affected by Harvey. If you feel so inclined to help out fellow teachers in Texas please consider donating to this GoFundMe that will directly benefit schools in need.

Hurricane Harvey GoFund Me

Make sure you check out more mentor text lessons from The Reading Crew AND enter to win a copy of EACH book used for the lessons and freebies shared!

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  1. This is a fabulous lesson! Great way to get students thinking about words :) Thank you.
    The Techie Teacher

  2. Somehow this is a book that I have never read - and I love Janell Cannon books. I'm definitely going to get this one soon. Thanks for sharing ideas on word choice. So important!

  3. I love Janell Cannon's books. I use Verdi and Stellaluna of course. She does a great job tying fiction to factual information. Thanks for the freebie and joining us.

  4. I have never checked out this book before. Can't wait to use when we study synonyms and how to use a thesaurus. Great writing lesson!!


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