Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Slithering into Revision

Leslie Dobbs

Description

Using Aesop's short fable, “The Dove and the Snake,” students will learn the importance of sensory language and sentence structure in creative writing while practicing the steps and procedures to good writing.

Objectives

The student knows possible prewriting strategies for different writing tasks.

The student focuses on a central idea or topic (for example, excluding loosely related, extraneous, or repetitious information).

The student uses an appropriate organizational pattern having a beginning, middle, end and transitional devices.

The student demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject that engages the reader.

The student demonstrates a command of the language including precise word choice and use of appropriate figurative language.

The student uses an effective organizational pattern and substantial support to achieve a sense of completeness or wholeness (for example, considering audience, sequencing events, choosing effective words; using specific details to clarify meaning).

The student proofreads writing to correct convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation, using dictionaries, handbooks, and other resources, including teacher or peers, as appropriate.

The student revises draft to further develop a piece of writing by adding, deleting, and rearranging ideas and details.

The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).

The student participates as a contributor and occasionally acts as a leader in a group discussion.

Materials

-“The Dove and the Snake” handout and instructions

-Highlighters for students or revision baskets (prepare revision baskets by making a basket or container for each group. Each basket may contain some colored pencils, highlighters, and erasers. You may add or delete any items.)

-Rubric for assessment

-Comment worksheet

Preparations

1. Prior Knowledge:
? Discuss the steps of writing with your students. Focus on the brainstorming and pre-writing steps.

? Discuss elements of figurative language—the creation and use of similes, metaphors, and alliteration.

? Discuss the responsiblities of working in groups (each group member will need to work with the other members, and each group member will be responsible for a specific job).

? Discuss the following grammar topics: Combining sentences, prepositional phrases, using adjectives and adverbs to describe, and changing passive or “dead verbs” (“be” verbs, -ing verbs, and sensory verbs) to active verbs.

2. Before class, divide your students into groups of two or four.

3. Prepare handout “The Dove and the Snake.” Make enough copies so that each group will have at least two copies.

4. Prepare rubric for assessment. Make enough copies so that each group will have at least two copies (one copy in case of mistakes).

5. Prepare comment handout. Make enough copies so that each group will have at least two copies (one copy in case of mistakes).

6. Prepare revision baskets—make a basket or container for each group. Each one may contain some colored pencils, highlighters, and erasers. You may add or delete any items. You may even just want to hand out highlighters to the groups instead of baskets.

7. Prepare Favorite Activity writing prompt—either on overhead or on board.

Procedures

*This lesson has been adapted from a lesson created by Donna Smith called “Stripping for Revision,” published in the April 1996 edition of Teaching Pre K-8 (educational magazine).

1. Prior Knowledge:
? Discuss the steps of writing with your students. Focus on the brainstorming and pre-writing steps.

? Discuss elements of figurative language—the creation and use of similes, metaphors, and alliteration.

? Discuss the responsiblities of working in groups (each group member will need to work with the other members, and each group member will be responsible for a specific job).

? Discuss the following grammar topics: Combining sentences, prepositional phrases, using adjectives and adverbs to describe, and changing passive or “dead verbs” (“be” verbs, -ing verbs, and sensory verbs) to active verbs.

Day 1
2. Begin by explaining to the students that writing is very important in everyday activities. Remind the students how it looks when people have errors in written or spoken material. The students are going to learn how to avoid being embarrassed by these mistakes. They are going to learn how to revise their work to avoid embarrassment.

3. Have the students write a paragraph about their favorite activity. You may want to give students half a class period or an entire class period to finish this, depending on how fast your students work. You may also want to use this writing prompt (similar to prompts on writing tests):

We all do things that we enjoy. Think about your favorite activity. Now write about three reasons why this activity is your favorite.

4. When the students finish their paragraphs, collect the paragraphs and put them aside.

Day 2
Remind the students that they wrote a paragraph yesterday, and they will be revising those paragraphs soon. However, the students first need to learn how to revise.

5. Pair up the students or put them in groups of four. Pass out handout “The Dove and the Snake”—one or two copied for each group (depending on how many students are in each group). The handout contains a set of numbered sentences that tell a story about a dove and a snake.

6. Part 1: In their groups, the students are to reduce the number of sentences by combining sentences, reducing sentences, moving or adding prepositional phrase, and changing passive or “be” verbs to active verbs. While making these changes, the students still retain the same content in the sentences.

7. Allow the students about ten to fifteen minutes to complete this part. Then discuss progress with the students. Have students read aloud examples. Make sure the sentences still tell the story without leaving out important information or content. Previous students working with this assignment have cut down these twenty sentences into four concise, vivid sentences.

8. Part 2: The groups trade papers with another group. Hand out revision baskets or highlighters. Instruct students to (1) circle the nouns that could be better described by adding size, shape, or color words, (2) put squares around dead verbs (“be” verbs, -ing verbs, or sensory verbs) that need to be replaced by active verbs, and (3) highlight descriptive words that have been used correctly. Students then turn in the revised papers to the teacher.

Day 3
Review what you have done so far. Then pass back the papers turned in yesterday to the original groups.

9. Part 3: Instruct groups to look at marks in their sentences. The groups need to change, replace, or add appropriate words to make the sentences vivid, suspenseful, and creative.

10. At this point, review figurative language with your students. Then the groups will rewrite the sentences into a paragraph format. The groups need to add to their paragraphs at least two examples of figurative language: simile, metaphor, or alliteration.

11. Part 4: Again, groups trade paragraphs to grade (“score”). The groups will read the paragraphs carefully and use the attached rubric and comment worksheet to score and offer suggestions for the paragraph.

12. When the class is finished scoring, instruct students to return paragraphs. The groups need to study their own paragraphs and comments given. They can make corrections, rewrite, and turn in for a teacher-assigned grade. This activity may continue into a next class period.

13. After paragraphs have been graded, you may post or read aloud the well-developed, creative paragraphs. You may even want to read the original story as a basis for the students to re-evaluate their own paragraphs.

14. Part 5: After grading these paragraphs and discussing the grades with the students, return paragraphs assigned at beginning of lesson (topic: favorite activity). Have students try their hand at revising their own work. Students use same process used in this activity:
(1) Rewrite paragraph by numbering the sentences.
(2) Reduce the number of sentences listed using techniques described above.
(3) Mark all words that can be improved.
(4) Rewrite the paragraph, making it concise, creative, and vivid. Students turn in these revised paragraphs for another revision assessment.

Example paragraph:

Dawn broke over a lush, green valley where a dove sat by a clear pond, preening her snowy white feathers. A movement nearby caught her eye. She sat very still, watching her deadly enemy, the snake, patiently waiting as if time did not matter. Meanwhile, unnoticed by the two enemies, a hunter stalked the dove, creeping closer and closer. The dove sat still as a rock. Suddenly, the bright red and green body of the snake slithered into the open, and the startled hunter jumped like a grasshopper into the air, dropping his net. In the midst of the confusion, the dove gently lifted off to safety.

Assessments

Teacher observation of groups working with sentences: Assign grade based on participation. Suggestion: Take five points off group grade every time group member is off task.

Paragraphs will be assessed by groups of students and by the teacher after revisions have been made. Students and teacher will use the attached rubric and comment handout.

Extensions

*This lesson has been adapted from a lesson created by Donna Smith called “Stripping for Revision,” published in the April 1996 edition of Teaching Pre K-8 (educational magazine).

Since this activity is designed to be completed in groups, it is a perfect activity for ESE and ESOL students.

This plan can also be adapted for use in other subject areas by changing the story idea to fit with a science, social studies, or math topic. It is easy to change the story used. Simply find a short story or article. Take it apart by listing and numbering each sentence separately. Add it to the instruction sheet. Be sure to hold on to the original.
Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.