Monday, March 21, 2016

A Teaching Pot of Gold: Transforming Student Writing

Happy Spring Everyone!  This is Jessica Zannini from Notes from the Portable and today I want to talk about using mentor texts to transform student writing.  Transformations are one of my favorite ways to introduce a new writing genre.  The rhythm and word choice of mentor texts are fantastic to get students motivated to write.

What is a Transformation?
When teaching transformations you take a great book with a specific pattern that writers can follow. Students write using a similar structure.  Transformations allow students to make reading and writing connections.  

Sample lesson using Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

1. Read Aloud Click Clack, Moo: Cows that Type, by Doreen Cronin.
2. Ask, "What patterns did you notice in the book?"
3. Have the students look closely at the notes written by the farm animals.  Ask, "What are the parts of this note?" (Greeting, Body, Signature)
4. Discuss the organization/structure of this book. You may want to create an outline that student's can follow.  
5. As a class/group write your own version of the book.  (Ex.  Click, Clack, Neigh: Horses that Text, or Zoom, Zoom, Moo: Cows that Game. An example has been provided for you to use. 
6. You can extend this and have individuals or partners write their own version. 

Click, Clack Maa, Goats that Text
By: Jessica Zannini

 Dear Farmer Brown,
    We goats are tired of the same old trash. We would like to have some fresh flowers to eat.  The flowers will make our breath smell good.  We are tired of smelling bad. 
    The Goats
“What!” yelled Farmer Brown.  He threw his cell phone on the kitchen counter.  “Goats that want flowers? Who ever heard of such a ridiculous thing!  Goats are supposed to attract the bad things and eat trash. They are not supposed to have fresh breath!”
  In the background he heard:
  Click, clack, Maa.
  Click, clack, Maa.
  Ticky, tack, Maa.

  Dear Farmer Brown,
  If you do not get us fresh flowers we will not eat the weeds that are growing on the farm. We also will stick to one area and not keep the pests away from the other animals.  In addition, we will not socialize with the new horses you get.  How will they ever adjust to the barn without us?  If we get new flowers we will continue doing our job with fresh breath. 
    The Goats

    “I guess I will have to give them what they want,” sighed Farmer Brown.  “My new horses certainly will not adjust without them.” 

Farmer Brown plugged his phone into the charger and walked to the barn.  “Goats, here are your flowers.  But in order to get them, you have to give me your cell phone.  
The goats decided that they would rather have the flower.  They handed over the phone and thanked him.  Farmer Brown let out a sigh of relief, but when he left the barn he heard:

  Click, clack, Meow.
  Click, clack, Meow.
  Ticky, tack, Meow.

Additional Transformation Books:
1. When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant 

2.  T'was the Night Before Christmas

3.  Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (or any of the other Mo Willems Pigeon books.

Don't forget to check out the other Primary Peach posts this month to learn more about making learning magical!

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