I'm participating in my first Workshop Wednesday to talk about my favorite mini-lesson for writer's workshop. I have made attempts to start writer's workshop before, but I could never quite devote enough time to make it work. However, I have a great writing mini-lesson that I really enjoyed!
I had to buy this book when I was doing my Master's, and it's become a go-to book for writing. TONS of great ideas. You really do HAVE to have this book!
Anyway, one of the ideas in there is to show students this poem "Love Song for a Jellyfish" by Sandra Hochman (I found a link to it here, but it's also in the book. I typed it up in a flipchart to show the kids). After we read the poem, we discuss how strange it was that the author chose to write a love song to a jellyfish. Then we use the poem as a model to create our own "love song". I challenge the students to pick an object (I'm very firm that they cannot pick a person, and I prefer that they avoid pets as well), something that cannot love them back. Then I model brainstorming using a web and listing descriptions, characteristics, uses, etc. that show why or how I love this item so much (i.e. my favorite book has many dog-eared pages and discoloration. If I wrote about an eraser, I would write that it fixes my mistakes.) I spend a lot of time walking around and helping students brainstorm because that's the BIGGEST part of this. I stress that if they can't come up with anything, they should probably choose another item that they feel more strongly about.
After students have enough ideas to move forward, I don't give them rules for how to organize the writing. Most follow the model of the Jellyfish poem, but some have made acrostics. I even had a child one year change it up and write an apology to a jack-o-lantern. I WISH I had a copy of it to share with you. Actually I wish I had any to share, but we did this about two months ago in one of the classes I push into. The students never cease to amaze me with how creative they can be and what interesting poems they make. It's a very fun lesson, and I've done it with 3rd and 4th grade.
Follow the link to Jessica's blog to check out more ideas for writing minilessons!