Looking for a simple assignment to use early in the year? This assignment achieves several goals early in the year. It introduces student writers to their classmates using the 5 step Writing Process and introduces the class blog. Creating student introductions is one of the first assignments that we post on Kidblog.
About the second week of school I pair students up and have them interview one another. My objective is to get them to question, listen, and then to ask a follow up question to their initial answer. We call these follow up questions “ladders of questions.” I explain that they are climbing higher and gathering in-depth information as they ask these questions. This is the prewriting stage.
To begin I pass out a list of general questions to ask their partner. It is obvious as I circulate around the room that some questions generate good discussions and others fall flat. That’s ok. After 15 minutes or so, the students decide to focus on just one question/answer as the info they will uses to introduce their partner.
Here are some examples of the questions:
- If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?
- What one day in your life would you like to live over again?
- When you are thirty years old, what do you want to do?
- What is the ideal number of children in a family?
- What is one of your accomplishments?
- If you could choose one quality for a teacher to have, what would it be?
In the drafting stage, they write up an introduction that starts with the person’s full name and nickname if that is necessary. The rest of the introduction focuses on the person’s response to one of the interview questions. Hopefully, during their interview session there was enough elaboration that the writer can develop the introduction with adequate details.
Now, students learn the important stage of revising. The pair shares their introductions with one another to be sure the information is accurate. Revisions can be made to correct information – deleting and/or adding details. Their partner can also help in simple editing of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. The introduction should be a 7-9 sentence paragraph.
Finally, students will publish their introductions on Kidblog. The students take a picture of their partners with their phones. This is used as the header on their Kidblog post. A quick lesson on titles helps to point out strong verb, capitalization, person’s full name, and general topic to be addressed: Melissa Anderson Dreams of Returning to Spain or George Johnson Recalls April 7, 2015. Students enjoy reading about their classmates on the blog.
This two day lesson is powerful because it creates classroom community and goes through the steps of the writing process seamlessly. When we review the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing) a week later, they realize how natural and successful the process is because they worked through each of the steps in the Partner Introduction lesson.