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February 12, 2013

Mining Journals and a Freebie

We started our Mining Journals today.  For our journals, the students have to be a part of the story.  They are the main character.  Here's how I set it up.    Over the course of about 2 weeks, we will be creating a brainstorm of 6 different situations.  They are telling their story...

Page 1: On the Trail
Students imagine they are heading to the gold fields.  They have to choose what route to take (boat, or overland - desert or mountains).  It's a big decision.  They have to tell different things that happen along the way.  Is it smooth sailing?  Do they run into bandits?  Does their wagon fall apart?  Think Oregon trail...(I loved that computer game when I was little.)

Page 2: Finding Gold! 
Students describe where and how they found their first piece of gold.
Page 3: Is it Real?
Students describe taking it to the bank to check to see if it's real.  
Does it turn out to be real, or is it fools gold?

Page 4: Prices go up
The mining town they are living in starts raising the prices - they have a decision to make.  Stay or leave to go somewhere else.

Page 5: Trouble at the Mine
Uh oh!  There is trouble at the mine.  The students have to describe what kind of trouble.  What happens?  Is anyone injured?  Do they have any gold left?  

Page 6: Ghost Town
The gold is gone, people are moving on... Students have to decide what they are going to do.  Do they stay and be a part of building the mining town into a real town?  Do they move onto a new place?  Do they go back home to their families.  

Basically this writing is helping them with their details as well as all their conventions.  Since the state and district writing tests are a month away, the kiddos need to write as much as possible!  They love it!  I allow them the option of turning the paragraphs into letters back home - for example, "Dear Ma,"  This engages them. 

So what's the process?

Every morning we brainstorm the new write.  I use this format.  It's a freebie over at TPT.  What does their character think, feel, and do in that specific situation?  I use a copy of this sheet under the ladibug for all their ideas.  Then they can use their own copy (stuck inside a sheet protector) to write their own ideas down with a dry erase marker.  They can use the same sheet over and over - just erasing it once they have their rough draft completed.     

After their brainstorm they need to write a multi paragraph rough draft about their situation.  They must do a Rainbow Edit of their work before they bring their rough draft to show me.  Then I give them their final draft sheet (half lined with space to draw on top) to write and illustrate.

This group seems as excited as previous classes about this project.  I save this as an example of their writing for Open House.  It becomes super cute when I take brown paper bags, open the bags up, and then crinkle them to create a leather looking journal cover.  I'll take a picture this year when they are all completed. 

Hope you had a great day! 

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