Objectives: Students will be able to…
- Brainstorm a topic for a narrative by looking at pictures
- Independently start writing a narrative based on a picture they selected
- Orally outline a story by looking at a picture
- PA.R.1.4 – Types of Writing
- PA.R.1.5 – Quality of Writing
Anticipatory Set: There will be a brief discussion. Ask the students, “What is a writer’s block?” Have students raise their hands and give the definition of a writer’s block. Ask the students if they ever had a writer’s block and how they felt during that time. Follow this up by asking the students how they got out of the “writer’s block.” Share a personal experience or examples of a writer’s block so that the students feel comfortable sharing their own experiences.
This activity allows students to discuss a topic that they can relate to, but also connect to brainstorming. Explain that we will use one strategy that will help resolve the issue of a writer’s block.
Procedures: Open the lesson by reading this quote from Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6, by LynneDorfman and Rose Cappelli: “Sometimes authors build stories around pictures or photographs. Sometimes the stories are personal memories sparked by connections made to the photographs. Sometimes the pictures provide the ideas for setting, characters, or events for fictional stories. Today I will show you how to build a story around the picture” (p. 45).
Show the students the (cropped) picture of the iconic image “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team photo, and the Uganda hand photo (see attached images). As a class, students will raise their hands and brainstorm as many ideas as possible about what they think is going on in each picture. Go through one picture at a time. Post or project the pictures on the board, and write the student’s ideas on the board underneath each photo. Collect as many ideas as possible.
Brainstorm: Display pictures. Students will brainstorm as many ideas as possible about what's going on in the picture. Here's a sample of what students might think is going on in the pictures:
- Construction workers
- May think they're stuck or trapped
- Taking a break/avoiding work
- May think this is a movie scene
- Eating lunch
- New York City/where students think this was taken
- 1980/year students think it occurred
- USA Olympic Hockey team
- Students may focus on specific fan in background
- Uganda/where students think it is
- May think it's an alien
- Starving boy
Procedures Continued: Have the students vote on one picture that they want to focus on. Model how to outline a story. Make a chart on the chalkboard with 6 rows and 2 columns. Label the columns: characters, setting, problem/goal, events, resolution, and ending. The right side of the column will be filled in one at a time and will be based on students’ answers. Start with a character. Have the students raise their hands to give suggestions of characters that they saw in the photo. Ask for minor details about the characters. Have the students give a few suggestions on the setting, problem, or goal, events, resolution, and ending from what they gathered about the picture. Note any details they have.
Model: Outline a story from the brainstormed suggestions.
(Example from Picture #1)
· Characters: Construction Workers. Let's say a few of the main character's names are James, Eli, and Mark. Let's say they're also brothers.
· Setting: On a beam in New York City
· Problem or Goal: The workers are tired of working and are getting hungry. Their strict boss will not let them take a break due to the rush to finish the building.
· Events: They are building a skyscraper. James, Eli, and Mark keep goofing around. The boss gets angry.
· Resolution: James, Eli and Mark convince the other workers to rebel and take a break, despite their bosses orders
· Ending: The construction workers finish their lunch on a beam. They enjoy each other's company, and their much-needed break.
Procedures Continued: Have the students pair up with a partner. Based on the chart that the students generated, students will orally create a story based on the chart that was created on the board. Students have to use the ideas that were presented in their story, and orally share with a partner. Each partner will create his or her own story and share it orally.
Shared/Guided Writing: Create another outline from the brainstormed list, using a shared writing format.
This is where students would work with a partner to create a storyline together. They would build ideas off each other. The format would be similar to what is seen in the model section.
For example, two students might pair up to talk about the third picture. They might have believed that the smaller, darker hand was an alien. They might name the alien Oswald, say he came down to Earth but the problem was that he didn't have any friends. The resolution was that he went to a camp and met a man named Fred. They became friends.
Procedures Continued: Show students the sample “Your Turn Lesson.” Show the sample outline and read aloud the sample “independent writing” portion. Tell students that they will do the same activity with a different picture – but more independently – in order to help them brainstorm a topic for their writing piece.
Students will be asked to bring in an appropriate picture that they feel comfortable showing to the class. The students can bring in a personal photograph (from a vacation, family photo, etc.) a magazine picture, a newspaper picture, or an image from the Internet.
The image will be hung up around the room. There will be a gallery walk. Students will walk around the room with a piece of loose-leaf paper. They will pick at least 5 images and jot down notes on the photograph or anything that comes to mind. After they visited at least 5 photos that they like and have taken notes on, they will pick the one they liked the best. This could be a photo they brought in or a different one. They will make an outline chart with the characters, setting, problem/goal, events, resolution, and ending. They will get ideas for those topics from what they saw in the photo.
After students create their outline chart, they will start to independently write their story. Students will draft their story and eventually go through the writing process. For this portion of the lesson, they will simply brainstorm through the activities mentioned and start their rough draft.
(Example based on Picture #1)
It was another scorching hot day. Brothers James, Eli, and Mark were off to another long day of work. Times were tough, and they all needed to work to support their families.
They arrived at their job site in New York City, where they were in the midst of building a skyscraper. The brothers were a part of the job, along with eight other men. James, Eli, and Mark were always the goofballs in the bunch. They were always clowning around to the dislike of their boss, Raymond. It was the only way the brothers could get through a long work day: by joking around. The other workers typically ignored it, but didn't mind it. Actually, the other workers enjoyed the entertainment, but never joined in because of their fear of Raymond.
The sun grew hotter, but Raymond forced the men to keep working. Their stomachs growled as they didn't eat all day. It was going into the twelfth hour without any sort of break. The youngest employee, Scottie, asked Raymond for a water break. What a mistake that was, as Scottie got ridiculed. The brothers, despite their always positive attitude, now had enough. James finally snapped.
“We've been working too hard out here boys. Raymond can't do nothing if we all stop. Don't let the old man scare ya. We have rights too. We've been working hard enough!” All the men seemed to listen.
Mark and Eli responded by putting their tools down. It didn't matter that they were in the midst of putting a beam onto the new building. They sat right down, and grabbed their lunch bags. It was enough to convince the other men to do the same.
Raymond wasn't pleased, but there was nothing he could do. He let it go for now. He always realized how hard the men worked, but he was under pressure himself to get the skyscraper finished.
“Look at the view up here!” Eli admired.
“It's quite the scenery,” Mark added.
That's all the work the men did for the day. They sat up there for a few hours -- until the sun set -- not working. They enjoyed the view and each other's company. They gobbled up their lunch, and shared stories. James, Eli and Mark even cracked jokes for the rest of the day. Raymond even cracked a smirk.
Closure: Students will choose either a red or green post-it-note. On a green post-it note, students will write down the general idea of the narrative they are writing about. Red represents a writer’s block. Students will anonymously post their post-it-note on the chalkboard. If the majority is green, then the activity will show that the brainstorming activity has been successful.
- Students will be looking at pictures to help them describe what they see. This will not only help English Language Learners, but also students who are visual learners.
- Students will be able to orally tell their version of the outline in a story to a partner.
Assessment: Students will go through the writing process, eventually revising, editing, and publishing their work. Their narrative will be graded using the Pennsylvania Domain Scoring Guide, but they will also have a rubric based on if they went through the writing process and followed certain directions. Part of the rubric will include a pre-writing or brainstorming section. Students ill have to hand in the notes they jotted down from the five pictures they selected. They will also hand in the outline they created for the picture they selected. They basically must show proof of their first draft.
- Red and green post-it-notes
- Sample photographs
- “Your Turn” Lesson Sample
- Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6
- Student photographs
- Loose leaf paper/pencils
- Narrative rubric for future use
- Students can obtain a picture from an internet or computer source
- Overhead projector hooked up to a computer to display the sample pictures and sample independent writing
Student Reflection with Sample Responses:
· How did the pictures help you think of story ideas?
· I was able to think about what was going on in the picture and what was going on in the character's heads, such as how they felt. I was able to make something up just by looking at it.
· Did any of the pictures spark connections and lead to writing personal narratives?
· The 1980 USA Olympic hockey team picture reminded me of when my softball team won the championship. It could be a future narrative in the future.
· What type of pictures work best?
· Pictures with multiple things going on. You can pick one thing from the picture that you like best to hone into, or you can make one big story from the whole scene. I used iconic images as samples because they were typically of something important or famous.
· Did the sharing of ideas help? How?
· Sharing is always a good strategy because it allows students to build off each other. One person might suggest something, and what they say may spark an idea from another student.
· Did the pictures spark ideas that led to revisions on previous work?
· Not yet.
· When might you use this strategy again?
· If I ever have a writer's block, this is a great strategy to spark an idea. A picture always has a story. Just by looking at a photograph, a story is created inside your head.
Teacher Reflection: I used the textbook Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6, by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli as my main resource for this lesson plan. I especially used the “Your Turn Lesson” on pages 45-46 entitled “Every Picture Tells A Story.” I thought the activity was an effective method for students to get an idea for an essay. I want to show them that there are various methods to think of a topic other than traditional methods. I expanded the lesson and topic so that the students could get more out of the lesson. For example, the anticipatory set of discussing a writer’s block links to the closure, which should show that a writer’s block was not a big issue during this activity. Through this lesson, students should learn that there are ways to think of topics to write about.
Students also prepare to write up their ideas from the picture by starting to draft. The students are able to get all their ideas out on paper and outline them in a way different from the traditional web or story map. They use their writing skills during the independent writing. The lesson essentially is leading them through the writing process by taking them through the beginning stages.