Turn Students Into “Progressive Story Chefs”

Help students learn how to "cook up a good story with attention-getting recipes for writing time.

Help students learn how to “cook up a good story with attention-getting recipes for writing time.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Here’s a new recipe to help students in grades 3 – 5 master core skills. It’s an attention-getting recipe for writing time.

Set Up Progressive Writing Stations – Challenge kids to become “Progressive Story Chefs.”  Invite them to “cook up” new pieces of “delectable” writing using prompts that you place at writing stations around the classroom.

Set Up Engaging Signs – Set up sign tents at each writing station that feature different kinds of story writing:

  • Serve Up a Terrific Tale
  • Fry Up a Fantastic Fantasy
  • Whip Up an Awesome Adventure
  • Mix Up a Masterful Mystery
  • Toss Up a Tasteful True Story

Set Out Eye-Catching Illustrations or Photos – Add colorful, eye-catching illustrations at each writing station. Choose illustrations for each genre.

Place colorful, eye-catching illustrations in your writing stations to help prompt students'  stories.

Place colorful, eye-catching illustrations in your writing stations to help prompt students’ stories.

For example, in the station titled, Whip Up an Awesome Adventure, you might leave a colorful illustration of a pirate with a parrot on his arm.

A smiling pirate might make some students think of the pirates in J. M. Barrie’s story, Peter Pan, but encourage kids to create original writing.

Leave Story Starter Prompts – Help Progressive Story Chefs start “cooking” with Story Starter Prompts.

For example, in the station titled, Fry Up a Fantastic Fantasy, you might print a Story Starter on an index card that reads:

Title: The Petrified Pumpkin

“Take me home,” the pumpkin cried. “Please take me!” I didn’t know why the pumpkin was so scared, but I wrapped my arms around the chubby orange creature in the grassy patch and…

Stoke Up on Smilies at Simile StationDevote one of your Progressive Writing Stations to similes. When you announce Progressive Writing Time to you class, explain that you’ll be looking for similes in all of the students’ stories.

Similes entertain readers and help “paint pictures with words” in any writing genre. Leave index cards at Simile Station that offer sample  similes.

For example, you might print an index card that reads:

An author who is writing a story about a young boy named “Joey” might write the following sentence to help describe Joey’s action in part of the story:

When Joey heard his mom call him to the kitchen for a quick supper before soccer practice, he ran downstairs like a fox being chased by a dog.

Note to Students: The underlined words in bold-faced type in the sentence above form a simile.

Don’t Forget Dessert!…

A boy uses a Story Starter card to begin "whipping up an awesome adventure.

A boy uses a Story Starter card to begin “whipping up an awesome adventure.

Make an Ice Cream Sundae of a Story – Hold the attention of your Progressive Story Chefs by likening good story writing to making delicious ice cream sundaes.

The first, second and third ice cream scoops are the basic beginning, middle, and end of a story.

Tell students that the flavored sauce over the ice cream scoops is the support and elaboration around the story focus.

The whipped cream and cherry on top are the spell-check and grammar-check that are mandatory for finishing good writing.

Like delicious recipes, good stories need time to simmer or fully chill. Plan additional writing time after students first visit your Progressive Writing Stations to allow for story development.

This approach focuses on key goals to:

1) instruct students to add more details in their writing.

2) encourage less rushed writing.

Create a Let’s Cook Up a Good Story Bulletin Board – After your “Story Chefs” have started new “recipes” for super stories,  keep the “cooking” going over time by transferring the genre signs, illustrations and story prompts to a bulletin board. Post a header that reads: Let’s Cook Up A Good Story!

Leave room on the bulletin board where you can post students stories when they are completed.

Consider hosting a Story Cafe Day later in the semester when you invite parents to stop by for storytelling time.

Stop by here on Wednesday for Mid-Week Focus. Please send comments any time.

Looking forward to talking with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

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