Writing Leads

slice-of-life2Thanks to the twowritingteachers blog team for hosting the #SOL18 where participants can write, read, and respond to fellow bloggers. A great experience to begin Spring and a rebirth of wonder! I will be back each Tuesday!

When I teach focused lessons about leads to students in 2nd – 6th grades, I begin with models from quality mentor texts. Then I try to imagine a story that I am going to write so that the models I create for students are around a single topic or seed of an idea for a particular story.

It is helpful to imagine the setting for a narrative lead. I do the same thing when we are immersed in a unit about informational or opinion writing. I find mentor text examples, then I choose a topic and write some leads.  I like to use three or four days to mini-lesson leads, posting my examples on either an anchor chart or a bulletin board. Students help me create examples through shared writing experiences in whole group, usually from a brainstormed list of topics they create with me. Then they choose one from the list or create a topic on their own to work with partners or in a small group. We post favorites around the room.

I ask students to try out all the leads we have talked about because ultimately, they will choose the perfect lead for the piece they are writing. Here are some examples around a circus setting. My characters are Rosemary Fennelly, her father, the ringmaster, Uncle Roy (brother of Mary’s mother), and Mary, a tightrope performer (not introduced in these leads).

Thoughtshot: I wonder if the tightrope walker will work without a net today?” Rosemary thought to herself and shivered inwardly.

Foreshadowing: Rosemary knew it was important to hold onto Daddy’s hand, but there was so much to see and do. She strained to break free of his hold…Daddy was much too slow today. Suddenly, she was free!

Name Statement: “I, Rosemary Fennelly, will forever be known as the Princess of the High Wire!”

Creepy Statement/Telling Detail: Our gaze shifted from the high wire, thirty feet above our heads, to the ground below – It was then we noticed there was no net.

Controversial: “Circuses!” Uncle Roy growled. “Things of the past. Should be shut down for good!”

Anecdote: Rosemary had always dreamed of walking the tightrope. As a little girl, she walked the sidewalk cracks and even tried to balance on Mama’s clothesline – only once. She had climbed the tree and positioned herself on the clothesline. Arms straight out for balance, Rosemary stepped out onto the line. Keeping her gaze on the tree that anchored the other end of the line, she started across. Mama had punished her but good when the line broke and all the almost-dry laundry came down to kiss the wet spring grass with Rosie following close behind.