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K-5 WRITING # 9

Mini lesson: Revising - Focusing On A Central Idea

Grades 2-5

 

Writing

 

Common Core State Standards

• W.2.5 With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
• W.3.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
• W.4.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
• W.5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

 

Rationale

In learning to revise a written story, students must be able to maintain the focus on the central idea of the story and to take out any information that is not relevant. The teacher will model this by writing his/her own story, either on a chart or transparency. S/he will add extraneous information that is not central to the story. Processing aloud s/he will revise the message and delete the extraneous information.

 

Materials

  • Transparencies or individual copies for student stories

  • Overhead pen

  • Class revision chart

 

Direct Explanation

Today we will take a look at a way to improve the content of our writing. You all know that a message is the most important or main thing you want to say. Content is the author’s message or what the author is writing about. Good writers know that they need to stay focused on a central idea as they write. This makes their message more powerful.”

 

Model

  1. I’d like to tell you a story to help you remember the importance of staying focused. Have any of you ever played baseball? What is the most important thing to keep your eye on in baseball? (the ball) I know a young man who was just learning to play baseball. He was assigned to play in the outfield. He waited and waited for a batter to hit the ball to him so he could catch it. The pitcher was so good, however, that the other team kept striking out. Inning after inning, he just stood in the field squinting in the sun, waiting for the ball to come his way. But nothing happened. He was bored. Then he heard a train whistle. A train came rushing down the track that ran next to the field. He turned to watch the train rush down the track. Can you guess how this story ends?” (A batter hit the ball into the outfield and he missed it.)

 

If he hadn’t let his focus stray from the baseball game to the train, this story might have ended differently.

 

Writing is like that. Good writers need to read and reread their piece as they write to make sure that they are staying focused on the central idea. When the author strays from the central idea, the message changes and the reader may miss the central or most important idea.”

 

  1. Tell students that you are going to read aloud a story written by a fourth grader. As you read the story, they will be thinking about determining the central idea of the story.

 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. was a very heroic person. Martin was a man with a dream, a dream that black people (like him) would be able to do whatever white people could do. Harriet Tubman was another person who worked for the freedom of black people. She led them to freedom on the Underground Railroad. When Martin Luther King was old he made a speech, a speech we will never forget, the “I Have a Dream” speech. After that, black people were treated as white people were. Then, after his speech, a white man shot and killed Martin Luther King Jr. Martin was a good and loving man.

     

    1. After the reading, tell students that you think the central idea of this story is that Martin Luther King is this writer’s hero. Highlight the sentence conveys this idea, “Martin Luther King Jr. was a very heroic person.”

     

    1. Tell students that good writers determine their central idea before they write. As they write, they stay focused on that central idea. They continuously reread what they are writing to make sure that they have not strayed away from their central idea. This gives their story unity.

     

    1. Reread each sentence and “think aloud” whether it is focused on the central idea. Determine that the following sentences are not focused on the central idea:

     

    • Harriet Tubman was another person who worked for the freedom of black people.

    • She led them to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

     

    Tell students that a good writer would revise their writing and take out these two sentences.

     

    Guided Practice

    1. Share another story, such as “Ozzie Smith”, with the students. Provide individual copies or display on an overhead. Read it aloud to the students. Ask them to work with a partner to determine the central idea. Students may highlight the central idea or write it on their paper. This sentence will be the reference as they check each idea for the focus.

     

    Ozzie Smith

    Ozzie Smith was a great baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals. His nickname was the “Wizard of Oz,” because he could make plays that looked like magic! He could pick up a line drive in the blink of an eye and whirl the ball to first base for the out. He won several back-to-back Golden Glove awards for his amazing skills as a shortstop. I use to love to watch him play at Busch Stadium. When I go to baseball games, I like to eat hotdogs and popcorn. Then I walk around the stadium to see the game from all angles. Ozzie Smith has retired from baseball, but this summer he was unanimously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hope to visit Cooperstown some day, to see his tribute there.

    1. Ask students to identify the central idea: Ozzie Smith was a great baseball player.

     

    1. Tell students to reread the story and check each sentence to see if it is focused on the central idea. Tell them to underline any sentences that stray from the central idea.

     

    1. Give students time to identify that the following sentences stray from the central idea:

      • When I go to the baseball games I like to eat hotdogs and popcorn.

      • Then I walk around the stadium to see the game from all angles.

     

    1. Review the strategy. Share the sentences in the Ozzie Smith story that strayed from the central ideal. Discuss how the story is improved by removing these sentences from the story.

     

    1. Add the following question to our class revision chart: Do all the sentences focus on the central idea?

     

    1. Remind students that when they are revising their writing they should check each sentence and remove any sentences that do not focus on the central idea.

     

     

    Independent Practice

    Each student will apply this strategy as s/he enters the revision stage of the writing process with pieces of his/her own writing.

     

    Assessment

    Write a story, being sure each sentence focuses on the central idea of the writing prompt.

     

    Tier II Additions

    • Have each student apply this strategy with a peer with strong skills in this area, as they enter the revision stage of the writing process with pieces of their own writing.

     

    Assessment

    With addition small group practice student will write a story, being sure each sentence focuses on the central idea of the writing prompt.

     

    Tier III Accommodations/Modifications

    • Write each of the sentences in their story on a sentence strip.

    • Work with a peer, paraprofessional, or teacher to determine if their sentences focus on the central idea.

    • Rewrite the sentences that focus on the central idea into a cohesive paragraph.

     

    Assessment

    Using a story frame, students will write a story using sentence strips, being sure each sentence focuses on the central idea of the writing prompt.

     

    Tiers IV and V Modifications

    • Have student give a central idea for a story. Then using a story frame students will tell a story and someone will transcribe the story onto sentence strips.

    • Allow student to work with a peer/paraprofessional/teacher/adult volunteer to determine which of the strips fit with the main idea. Tier IV students will then put the story strips in order to form a cohesive paragraph. Tier V students will retell the story in a cohesive manner.

     

    Assessment

    Using a story frames students will write/or dictate a story using sentence strips, being sure each sentence focuses on the central idea of the writing prompt.

     

    Resources

    Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi Joann (1998). Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing

    K-8. York, ME: Stenhouse.

    Tompkins, Gail E. (2000). Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product.

    Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 

     

    Copyright © 2006 Arkansas Department of Education. All rights reserved. School districts may reproduce these materials for in-school student use only. No resale. Materials may not be reproduced, distributed or sold for commercial use or profit. ADE employees are not authorized to waive these restrictions.

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