Finding a Topic

I headed into fifth grade classrooms this week to talk about picking topics for their feature articles/essays. I found the idea in The Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide by Steve Peha. I love this book! I was a great resource because it was easy to use and had actionable lessons that I felt I could adapt to the mini lessons I teach. I also felt like I could use a lot of these lessons in a variety of genres.

The students started by dividing a page into four quadrants. Each quadrant became a T Chart and we started in the top right corner with “opposite lists” and moved through the rest of the charts. The students were listening to my examples at first, but quickly started chatting and talking about their ideas as they filled up the list. It was awesome. In every class, the students were ripe with ideas for each list.

We finished the lesson by talking about how we can use this strategy for a variety of purposes, come back and add to it, and add other kinds of “opposite” lists to our notebook for the future.

With each set of lists, we started with one side (for example, "like") and filled that in before adding the second column and working on that. When I introduced "dislike," I qualified it by saying that it has to be school appropriate. After the first room, in which some students listed Donald Trump, I told students they couldn't include a person's name. You'll see lists from the first classroom below.

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