My 3rd graders this week started on a long writing project.  3rd grade has a lot of exciting things coming up that we’ll be working on so you’ll have to check back often to see the progress.  I posted last week that we read Animals With Wings and how they did a great job of going back and looking for information.  Yesterday we went through the process of diagramming and mapping out a model paragraph using a stop light format.  Green represents your topic sentence and is written on green paper.  Your detail sentences, which support your topic sentence, is written on yellow paper.  Finally, your closing sentence, which restates or rephrases your topic sentence, is written on red paper.  It’s a really neat way for students to visually see the different parts to a paragraph.

Today I modeled my diagram and sentences on the paper strips.  I was surprised at how quickly they took the task on and had lots of information they could write about based on what they read in the book.  Once they made their diagram then they were able to write a rough draft of their paragraph.  I highlighted the sections in green, yellow, and pink highlighter on their rough draft so they were able to see the different parts of their paragraph.  Some students struggled with coming up with a topic sentence and went directly to detail writing (without knowing).  Once they had written details we had to go back and look at what they said and figure out “what was your topic?”  Light bulbs came on when they realized what they thought was a topic sentence was really just details about what they were talking about.  The students were writing much more than they typically do in their journals because they had a better format for writing.  Finally journal papers were completely full and students were wondering if they could do to another sheet of paper to finish their details.  Wow!  This is not something I am used to.  They also were groaning when group was OVER!  They were complaining they didn’t get enough time! (Apparently 30 minutes flew by just as quickly for them as it did for me!)

After group I was able to go back and make a few spelling corrections.  Normally I’d make the students fix the errors, but the purpose is paragraph writing and I didn’t want to drag this lesson into a 3rd day based solely on the fact I wanted students to fix spelling errors.  Another purpose for another day!

Today students were able to write their sentences on their sentence strip paper and glue their sentences on paper.  Indenting the beginning of a paragraph was definitely new for them.  I struggle to get them to write from end to end of the paper and not just leave big spaces.  This was another great tool for them to see how words need to stretch.  Writing 2 small words per line just isn’t going to cut it.  I was amazed at how well this worked for the kids.  The structure for how the writing should look gave us some incredible writing.

As you can see students were hard at work going over their drafts and then making sure they matched their sentences up.  Using all the space was a new challenge for them as they had to make sure to cut their sentences in different places to go from edge to edge.


It was very exciting once everyone had their stories put together.  They were buzzing as they read each other their stories.  They were so proud of the work they had done (As was I!!!!)  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen bigger smiles on the faces in my group today.