The problem with good beginnings is keeping it up long enough to get to the end. I, of course, love to start strong with great ideas and master plans and slowly but surely fall off the focus and end up waiting a month to add another blog post. That's my truth.
Fourth graders at my school are working hard on realistic fiction stories. I decided to help them with some examples of good leads. I also wanted to include some mentor texts so that I can always bring it back to examples they can find on their own using their "Writer Brains." I found a great example anchor chart on Pinterest (after I pinned a bunch of shoes I couldn't afford, recipes I would never make, and decorations I would never put up).
I started with this chart ready to go and each book in my little bin I tote from class to class. I gave the students choice about which book to read first and next. I had them listen as I read the first few lines and asked them to tell me what the author was doing. To be fair, they had done a little bit of work on leads previously with their classroom teachers, so they weren't coming into this lesson cold. They had a good time figuring out what each author used to start his or her book.
Finally, we got to the big question mark. That's when I made a big deal about their "Writer Brains" and using them when they read so they can take note of what authors do and think about how they could incorporate those ideas into their own writing.
In most classes, we finished with enough time for students to pull out their own books from their book bins and study the leads. We had they read the first few lines and figure out if the type of lead was on our chart or if this was something new. If it was something new, we asked them to name it (we helped!). Students shared in partners and came up to the front and shared with the whole class.
I loved seeing the students excited about analyzing their own books and figuring out what the authors did. It was like a spark had gone off and they figured out that books don't just exist - they are thought out and planned! Imagine that!!