Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Intermediate Writing Workshop with read alouds August 30, 2008

Earlier in this blog I put up a schedule of implementing the first Unit of Study for the intermediate aged classroom. I added a couple new lessons that I felt were missing from the original plan and thought I would share them here as well.

Focus Lesson C2: Generating More Stories



This lesson uses a book to wake up stories in students’ minds. It can be taught several times with different books and authors so students have many opportunities to consider stories they may choose to write about.


A common lament heard from students is “I have nothing to write about.”
This lesson generates excitement for writing by getting students to orally tell
their own stories, propelled by the storytelling of favorite authors and their teacher. It builds structure for the notion that “writing floats on a sea of talk.”



When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Chart, “Ideas to Write About”

Other books to use: The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola, Ticky, Tacky Dollby Cynthia Rylant, many Patricia Polacco books


Intended Learning Statement

“As writers, we have been experiencing where authors get their ideas. Today we’ll analyze how Cynthia Rylant (or another author of your choice) gets her writing ideas.”


Whole Group Instruction

  • Modeling: Read aloud from the book When I Was Young in the Mountains  by Cynthia Rylant. Say, “Wow, this book makes me think of several stories I might tell. I could tell you about the time when my grandma made a chocolate cake that I called “The Soggy Chocolate Cake”-I loved that cake! and how I always wanted to eat at her house because she made spaghetti out of a can. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found out she didn’t know how to cook.Or, I could tell you about the time I was catching crawdads with my neighbor  when one of my friends lost their shoe in the mud (we were convinced it was quicksand!).Then share a special personal story.


  • Active Involvement: Say, “Now I’d like you to talk with your partner about a story—or stories—this story helped you think about.”
    After students talk with their partners, they share an idea their partner came up with. Allow several pairs to share their responses.

“Be sure to write any new ideas down in your writer’s notebook during the work period.”


Work Period

Students add a few ideas to a brainstorm list to write about in the future. During the work period, confer with students by asking, “After hearing When I Was Young in the Mountains, what new ideas did you come up with to write about?” “Why would you like to write about that idea?” and/or “I’d love to hear more about why it’s special to you.”


Share Time

Choose students to share some of their ideas based on the writing conferences that took place during the work period. Ask, “What is something Cynthia Rylant can teach us as writers about getting ideas?” and/or “Where else might you get ideas for your writing now?”
































One Response to “Intermediate Writing Workshop with read alouds”

  1. Hi! I really liked how you phrased the question about the mentor text because it will get the students to answer for the author, by reading as a writer! That’s great.

    ~Melissa 🙂

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