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Lesson Plan - Young Writer's Course



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Young Writers Lesson Plan






















Young Writer's Workshop:

Developing Inner Ideas Through Outer Expression




A Lesson Design Plan for First and Second-Grade Children

       A core lesson to serve as the repeating framework for an ongoing elementary-age writing program


Lesson Background



Subject – Elementary Composition

Topic – Our First “Young Writers” Class

Grade Level – 1st and 2nd grade level

Duration – 25 minutes


Note: the first-day session includes an introduction to writing, and ends prior to the "reading with conferences" activity



  "Don't assign, share in writing." - Donald Graves, 1983



Discipline Wholeness of the Lesson:


“Today we will learn to write a story about something that is fun for us. It could be about a nice memory about a trip, a favorite pet or something we like to do. This will help us to see that it is actually very easy to write a story. Later, we will put our story into a book with pictures which illustrate our writing so that we can show it to our family.”



SCI Wholeness of the Lesson:


“As is the knower, so is the known.” 

By expressing himself or herself in the form of writing, the child finds out that each book he reads is also a simple expression of one author’s inner consciousness and creativity.



Main Points


      Writing is easy when we just think of an idea and then write it down as though we were talking to another person, or to our family. Later, we can correct and improve our sentences. 


      Creative writing is a process of “inner reflection”. This means that we must be able to think about our ideas quietly without being disturbed by others. 


      Self-expression means that we “give our ideas” on something. We use what we already know or what we know how to imagine to start writing about something. It is sometmes easier to start with writing about something real (called non-fiction).



Objectives of the Learning


      To learn to be able to come up with ideas and know that we can write about them to express them 


      To be able to find or to create a quiet place and a quiet moment to write in 


      To gain skill at letting our ideas flow onto the paper as "writing"



Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment – Writing Goals and Bennchmarks for Primary Grades:

      Learn and practice alphabet

      Practice invented spelling

      Publish books, using writer’s workshop publishing cycle


Approach – Laboratory


We will discover the value of a “Writing Studio atmosphere” so that we may repeat it and use it at home at anytime. Say - “We are going to have a quiet writing period to allow our ideas to flow from inside of us. We will do it together as a group so that the classroom will be filled with ideas!”  35



Lesson Beginning





“In the first grade and in kindergarten we have been learning to create things. Today we will learn to begin to write about our ideas – that is to create “writings”. Writing is easy once you have an idea. You just start to let the idea flow as if you were talking about it with somebody.”



Introductory Focus


“There are only three steps to writing. The first is a quiet place to do it. We will be making our classroom into a quiet place in a minute.


“The second step is to have an idea to write about – something that it would be fun to think about and to write about. How many people think they have an idea that they would like to write about?” Let the class brainstorm their ideas for a minute. Write these briefly on the board as they emerge.



Motivation Step


“The third step is to have a reason to write. The best reason for writing -- which you will discover in a minute -- is that writing is fun! Maharishi says that “outer depends on inner”. In writing, this means that when we write our stories on paper we can see what fun we have had in our lives, or what important things we have learned by living.


“So we are going to start writing today. Even if you think that writing is hard, by the end of the lesson you will realize that it isn’t hard if you just take it easy. Don’t try to write “well” at first. Just let your writing flow onto the paper like paint flows from a paintbrush. How many people like to paint in this class? So now just “paint your ideas in words” -- and then later we can actually draw or paint them in pictures, as well, in our book."


“And when we do put it all together in a book it will be even better because Maharishi says that the whole is something even bigger that just the parts put together. Who would like to have a real book to show their family which they wrote themselves? This will make another very good reason for us to write -- for somebody else to have fun by reading our book!” 



Lesson Development



(as suggested by Donald Graves in “Writing” 1983)





      Newsprint or loose leaf paper (unlined)

      Pen or any writing instrument that suits the child’s style best, but which does not erase

      Manila folder to store daily writings in for one year (or much longer!) 





As examples to use, write down three or four things for yourself to write about the night before the class: 

             Favorite pets you have had in your life

             Incidents that happened to you when you were the 

         children’s  age, especially in school

             “I know about” // or “I want to know more about”



Think through your topics, and then bring them to class. In the classroom, demonstrate the procedure of listing topics:


Hand out the newsprint sheets. Say "I am going to write, too." Show them on the overhead projector how to list possible topics: number the screeen 1-4, then "think of" and list two of your topics (note - demonstrate "inventive spelling" as you write your ideas down). Tell them how you came up with your ideas (as you actually did the night before.) Do the second two ideas the same way. Next, have the children list 3-4 topics -- "just as I did" -- for 2 minutes. Then have them read their ideas to each other in pairs.


Demonstrate Choosing One of the Topic:


Choose one of your topics to write about. Discuss how you made the choice -- say, "think out loud" -- and what you hope to find out more about by writing on it. "I really like my bike, but I think I want to tell the story about how we got our puppy." Next, give the children one minute (set timer) to choose one of their topics. They may think about it or may also discuss it with a friend (demonstrate this also). They should put a star on their "idea list" chosen topic. If no topic has come to them, they should just start writing about anything. “Let the words go down on the paper. In time a subject will come to you.” (Graves 1983)



Silent Writing Session 


“Now we will start writing. Just write, don’t erase. Cross out words whenever you need to change something or to restart a sentence. If you get stuck spelling a word put the first letter and then a blank and come back later, but don’t stop writing just because of one word. I will be writing, too. 6 Whenever I am writing I do not like to be disturbed, so everyone should just do their own writing for five minutes quietly. If you have questions, see if they can be answered by just writing -- or save them for five minutes and continue writing until I am done.” 


Note: On the first day lesson (only), skip now to "Demonstrations List". For the second day and onward, continue below.



Visiting Your Writers:


After five minutes, walk around and observe the children writing. Answer questions individually and quietly to maintain the “studio atmosphere” and their continued writing. A “quiet buzz” in the room is alright. (Graves)



 “Receiving” Their Work:


For ten minutes receive their work by conferencing. Make a list of children for one-minute conferences. Let the child “teach” you the specifics of his or her work (Graves). Read back a phrase from their writing. Focus their attention on word flow and the release of information by asking, “What happens next?” Comment on their information -- “What a big dog you have! What’s it like to feed him? What does he eat?”




If no or very little writing has happened yet or is not continuing, elicit “What happened?” from any topic. “Do you need help?” “I have stupid ideas.” “What ideas?” “The space shuttle.” “Did you see the shuttle come in?” “Yes.” “How do they get a giant shuttle up in space? How do they bring it back? Think about it for a minute and I’ll be back.” (per Graves)




Demonstrations List



Writing can be scary. It’s very important to demonstrate:

         Leaving a blank for a trouble word  “G__________”

      No erasing but yes (!) crossing out words

          No “spelling”, just “inventive” spelling to start 

          Picking their topics (use an assistant to

        demonstrate “listening and asking” between partners ) 


Lesson Ending



Fulfillment and Closure:


After ten minutes of conferencing and writing, ask for anyone who would like to read their writings. Choose a child who has written something to start (important).


Share their work as a group for two or three minutes. What were some of the topics? How did it go? Then share your struggles and learning. “Would anyone like to read what they have so far? Even read just one line you like?” Three or four works at the most … Follow the same “Receiving Their Work” guidelines above, only now in front of the group. Use a phrase from their work. Then let the children ask one or two questions of the writer. “Would anyone like to ask Simon a question about his topic?”



Final Step - “The Writer’s Folder”


Have ready for each child a strong folder to last them the whole year. Keep in a central box or file drawer so they can see that you honor their creations. Repeat this session on each writing day, adding “mini-lessons” on grammar to begin each writing studio.



Ongoing Assessment Strategies for lesson: 


          Child is learning how to be able to “come up with ideas” and is beginning to know that he or she can “write on their ideas”. Child participates in the offering of ideas in classroom forums.


          Child is able to find and use a quiet place and a quiet moment to write. He or she is able to settle into the quiet atmosphere of the writing studio without excessive delay. Child is able to maintain his writing task without needing to talk to other children or even to the teacher, once solitary writing has begun.


          Child is gaining skill at letting ideas “flow onto the paper” as writing. 18  Child maintains courage during the initial stage of idea elaboration. 19  Child sees his own writings as something of value, equal to those of his classmates. 20  Child feels satisfaction at having expressed his ideas in writing form. 21







Graves, Donald.  Writing: Teachers & Children at Work . Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

Heinemann.  1983



"I can read!"


"I can write!"



"I can draw!"


"I made a book!"