Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fishbowl Writing

Here’s a fresh idea for writing a whole class story. What you will need: a fishbowl (yes, a real fishbowl), small pieces of paper (preferably blue), blue marbles/flat glass pebbles (optional) and fish stickers (optional).

Put the marbles in the bottom of the bowl. Next, write one topic on each piece of paper. Use our list (which you can print onto blue paper) or your own ideas. Fold each paper up and drop on top of the marbles. You can decorate the inside or outside of the bowl with fish stickers or foam fish. It will look something like this.

Gather your class at the SMARTBoard, chalkboard, writing chart or whatever you use for whole class projects. Say that you will be writing a group story. You can pull one blue paper out of the fishbowl OR allow a student to do the honor. Your approach to story writing may have to coincide with specific programs adopted by your school, so cater this project to those guidelines or use our ideas.
Once the topic is chosen and announced, you will need to make decisions as a group. “What kind of story do we want to write?” (you can discuss genres and the relevant descriptors for those - happy, scary, funny…). Next, “What is a good opening line?” Remind students of the importance of a Brilliant/Bold Beginning. Allow students to call out ideas. Latch onto the best ones which are sometimes a combination of a couple of suggestions. Continue with questions that steer the group into writing a succinct and sequential story with questions like “What might happen next?”, “Then what?” or “How can we solve that problem?” Sometimes the group may get stumped (Writer’s Block!) during the process. If this happens, start back at the beginning and reread what you have so far. Most of the time this strategy will trigger new ideas. If not, offer a suggestion of a word or two and someone will surely jump in!

The first time doing Fishbowl Writing can be a challenge, especially if group story writing is a new process for your class. Stick with it! After a few times, the students will have so many ideas that the stories could go on forever. Be sure to help steer them toward the conclusion when it’s time. After the story is complete, go back and change weak words to stronger words. Pull out the thesaurus if you need motivation. Save the title for last. Finally, type up the story and add a picture space. Give a copy to every student to illustrate and take home. They will love it!

Ann Marie

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