post author, Janet Hurley
From a lesson plan....
1. Students will understand how questions can help them to elaborate and be more specific in fiction and non-fiction.
2. Students will understand what makes a good question.
2. Students will practice empathic reading and questioning—linking back to their practice with empathic listening and questions—in pairs, sharing their thumb stories.
3. Students will understand the concept of first draft and the importance of exploration vs. perfectionism.
4. Students will understand the concept of creative authority—that they are responsible for all of their choices—a good writer is willing to try different choices for words, organization etc, and, ultimately, is responsible for the quality of the work.
5. Students will write the answers to the questions on a separate piece of paper and consider how these might fit into their stories.
Step-through of activities
1. Mini-lesson on asking questions to help unpack ideas, stories etc.
-First draft of a story ( fiction or non-fiction) like a garden bed. A good writer digs deeper to find more of the story, maybe to find the focus.
--Make the connection between empathic listening and questioning and empathic reading and questioning.
---Questions like the tops of potato plants. They are green and leafy and when you grab one and pull it up, you'll find the potato. Sometimes the potato that comes up is big and fat, sometimes it's tiny.
-Two kinds of questions:
-small potato (closed): specific details and clarification ex. what time of the day does this happen? These help with creating “word pictures”
-big potato (open): usually involves more thought and more writing and usually involves WHY or WHAT (Not always!) Ex. why did the girl want her father to move away? Or, what did the prince want most of all and why? These types of questions are also used for clarification and to deepen an understanding of the story.
- Using my thumb story as an example, students have the opportunity to ask me big potato/small potato questions.
2. Students pair up to share thumb stories.
--Reader keeps in mind that he or she is there to understand and help the story.
--Writer keeps an open mind and understands questions are to be helpful.
--Reader isn't going to give suggestions or correct spelling.
--After reading, the reader clarifies what they read with the writer.
So, the beginning of the story is….
And the specific situation that you are writing about is….
The end of your story is…
The point of view in the story is…
--The writer has a chance to clarify and makes notes.
--The reader then writes down questions on a separate piece of paper to help the writer get more specific and to go deeper into the story. At least one big potato question.
--Writer answers the question on a separate piece of paper, with a space between each answer and thinks about where it would go in the story.
Debrief this process--
Were you tempted to make suggestions?
What are some examples of questions that were asked?
What were the surprises?
Did you take notes?
Now that you’ve written down answers—does it change how your story might go?
Do you want to use all the answers?
How would you fit them into your story?
Would you have to change something before or after—add words? Add a sentence?
Who is in charge of your story?