This lesson is inspired by the best grammar book I have ever found: Image Grammar: Using Grammatical Structures to Teach Writing, by Harry R. Noden.
Mini lesson (takes about 10 mins with student discussion):
Putting rhythm into any genre of writing can be easy and will instantly bring our writing to the next level. Writing is a lot like music. When it has a rhythm to it, the words and ideas flow to the reader, making it easy and enjoyable to read. It's fun to play around with rhythm in our writing.
I give this example. We read it together and discuss. Hearing the students put their observations into words is interesting...they can feel it, just like we feel the beat in a song. We have a chance to review verbs, adjectives and adverbs as well.
Then I give the following sentence frames and make-up spontaneous examples, using characters and situations from the students' stories...it lights them up when they hear their very own character or setting being used as the example. It also shows how easily this can be applied to their own writing and how quickly it makes their writing sound good.
The students get to choose one of these structures to use in their writing that day. It's up to them which one they use and where they put it, but they have to practice using rhythm somewhere in their writing during the workshop time.
Then the students choose their writing spots, and writing time begins.
Here is an example from one writer:
"The dirty, not-so-white dog trotted down the dark lonely road, through the strawberry patch, and across the rickety bridge. She lifted her nose to catch the mouthwatering scent of a turkey just taken out of Mrs. Mabel's oven. Mrs. Mabel knew how to cook a good turkey, and Daisy was determined to taste as much as she could get her teeth around. Daisy was a dog who knew what she wanted, who never gave up, and who would do whatever it took to get the job done. And thus the thanksgiving disaster began."
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Sarah Pemberton leads writer's workshops and summer camps that connect people through story.