Nounster Writing Project

    

    This is a project that I like to start around Halloween.  I do not celebrate Halloween in my classroom because it is so diverse and many parents are uncomfortable with the holiday.  However, this is a fun activity the students enjoy.

 

    I did not create this actual idea, but "borrowed" it from a wonderful teacher that has retired since.  I have kind of taken the project and molded it into my own.

 

    The concept is for children to create their own monster.  We call the project a Nounster, because we are studying nouns.  Students are pretending to be these monsters and introducing themselves.  This year I will be trying something new at the end of the project.

 

The objectives that I teach using this activity are:

  • Write, combine and vary sentences to match purposes and audience

  • categorizing information using webs

  • writing a clear topic

  • try creative and unusual use of language

  • drafting and revising writing to improve fluency, content and organization and style to match purpose

Here is how the activity works:

 

Before Starting the Project

 

Prewriting

 

Drafting

 

Revising

 

Editing

 

Publishing/ Celebrating

 

After the Project is Completed

 

Before Starting the Project

     My mini lesson focus with this unit is creating interesting leads.  I like to discuss lead s a few days before actually starting this project because I think it makes the transition smoother.  First I spend a day introducing what a lead is and sharing examples that I think are great leads.  I try to include fiction AND  nonfiction. 

 

     Then I tell students we are going on a lead scavenger hunt.  This is a fabulous idea I picked up from Amy Bruckner's Notebook Know-How: Strategies For The Writer's Notebook.  I showed students how to write the lead on paper and then include the book title (underlined) a the end.  Students then went and selected one book basket from our library and searched through all the books for leads.  Then they jotted them all down in their writers notebooks.  At the end of class we shared great leads they found and I wrote them down on chart paper to hang around the room.  They found some AWESOME leads.  I was impressed.

 

     The next day I asked students to see if they had a stinky, horrible, no good, very bad lead from their own writing in their writers notebook. This is another idea from Bruckner's book.  I asked one child to share and we did something called Try 10.  As a class we brainstormed 10 ways to revise or rewrite their lead.  Then I asked students to try this in their own notebook with the lead they choose.  I told them it would NOT be easy. The first 3 are easy, but the next 7 are tough!  However, the writing gets better EVERY time.  We shared at the end and it was amazing how much better the leads were.

 

Prewriting

     After explaining the project to the students I shared how to create a web.  In black I created a web with the nounster's name in the middle.  Then I branched off with topics we could write about.  Then I asked students what things we could write about the nounster and they supplied ideas.  After we had set up the web, I created my own nounster (while thinking aloud of course!) in a different color marker.  Then it was easy to explain to the kids they needed to create their own web, using everything in black because the red was MY nounster.  Students did this in their writer's notebooks.

 

    Here is an example of a barebones web I created in word.  However, the one I created with the kids was so much better and through.  I just can't think of it all now!!!

 

Drafting

     The students were asked to start drafting their stories.  In order to keep the stores from being a long list/ description, I asked students to think about WHAT was their nounster DOING.  Think of the character in action.  I modeled this lesson after Describing a Character in Ralph Fletcher's Craft Lessons.  I read aloud an excerpt from Yolanda's Genius and we brainstormed how the character has been described in action.

First, I list the action and then under it we brainstorm all the descriptive phrases the author has used.

 

     This project is an excellent opportunity to discuss "show not tell" with students.

 

Revising

     I introduce the concept of ARR! revising to students.  Click here to see a poster of ARR! revision.  Before I teach this lesson I write an example nounster story on the overhead, then have students watch me as I revise the story.  We brainstorm all the things that I did while revising.  This is similar to the ARR! poster, but is more detailed.  We add to this poster all year long.  Click here for an example of this poster.  It is about halfway down the page.

 

     I also ask students to look back at their leads.  I remind students that we have just learned how to create more interesting leads (see before starting project) and ask for students to complete a Try 10 with their lead.  If all goes well, they can actually create a better lead!

 

Editing

     This lesson is very similar to the Revising lesson.  I introduce the concept of CUPS! editing to students.  Click here to see a poster of CUPS editing.  Before I teach this lesson I write an example nounster story on the overhead, then have students watch me as I edit the story.  We brainstorm all the things that I did while editing.  This is similar to the CUPS poster, but is more detailed.  We add to this poster all year long.  Click here for an example of this poster.  It is about halfway down the page.

 

Publishing/ Celebrating

     Students complete a final draft.  After all final drafts are competed (or are due,  if students do not turn in their paper in time, they do not participate in this activity until the paper is done), students will create the nounster they have described.  I pull out all my glitter, glue, pipe cleaners, construction paper and craft materials for kids to use.  We work on this for two class periods.  Then the monsters are hung outside with the writing mounted on construction paper beneath it.  I will try to take a picture of the display this year and add it on here.

 

***Tip*** While students are creating their nounsters, I pull students over one by one.  Together we read their nounster story and discuss the writing's strengths and weakness.  At this time I grade it so students know their grade and WHY they earned their score.   Also, this cuts down on my grading!

 

After the Project is Completed

     This is something new I will try this year.  I may have students complete this as morning work, or as independent practice during guided reading.  After the project is completed and it is taken down off the hallway walls, I have students highlight all of the nouns and pronouns in the story.  Then using the highlighted words, students will complete this graphic organizer, sorting and identifying nouns and pronouns by placing them in the correct category.

    

 

  

 

All graphics on this page are from