This year, I started off journal writing time by reading Diary of a Worm. This funny book is useful for so many lessons. I used it to show students all of the different things that they can write about in their journals--lists of things they like and dislike, stories about their day, stories of how they have gotten in trouble, and so forth.
About five students in each class took the lesson one step further and started to write their own funny diaries. How fun! Since I'm still observing the students carefully to find out what they are like, I was excited to see them taking off with such a creative kind of writing.
And they had different methods. One student took the picture book and went through it page by page. At first, I was worried that he was copying. Then I saw that he was writing the Diary of a Dragon by looking at what Doreen Cronin wrote in Diary of a Worm, and then trying to think of a similar situation for his dragon. What an interesting writing process!
On the other side of the room, a different student was trying to write the Diary of a Banana. But I could see that he was having some trouble. Instead of using first person point of view, he was writing in third person, and seemed to be struggling to find ideas. This shows me that he's working on using different points of view in writing, but isn't quite sure of how to do it. Perfect for an early teaching point.
Yet another student had started writing Diary of a Bee. She'd filled up half a page, but then seemed stuck. I showed her how to use a field guide to insects to find out more facts about honeybees, facts that she might be able to use to write her funny diary.
I've never had so many fiction pieces so early in the year. Usually, the writing is all personal narratives for the first few weeks as students work through topics related to sports, their summer vacations, and their families. I'm intrigued and excited to see how these students develop!