Writing Minilesson: Choosing Good Writing Topics

September 9, 2010 bribri42

Writing Minilesson: Choosing Good Writing Topics

Day 1



Teacher shares, “As I think back to our getting-to-know-you activity from this morning, I am reminded of how interesting you all are. Each of you is unique and different and you are each individuals. When I think about your writing from this morning and what you wrote about yourselves, your likes, I am reminded of our similarities and differences. Today, we are going to create a list of topics that each of us can write about. A good place to start is with our “likes.”

(Remember the other option is to have students share their likes and from their likes create possible categories for writing topics. From those categories, show them how to create more narrow topics that matter to them. For example, from pets, they may choose “Angelo.” Possible categories that kids might generate include:


animals         pets                family                        sports             TV/movies/games

food                friends           books             music             nature


what I like to do after school or on the weekends    my room



Teacher asks, “What makes a good writing topic?” Teacher listens to student responses then responds with, “Well, writers write about topics that they care about and know something about. That may include things we wonder about or are curious of. But mostly, we write about things that are important or interesting to us as individuals.”

***When you are thinking of modeling topic selection with your students, please choose topics that you think MIGHT be of interest to children. You are more likely to capture their attention and affirm the importance of writing about everyday “stuff.”***

Teacher then begins to think aloud as she writes her topics (5) on the board:

“OK I am listing topics that I may want to write about. I love my family, and I love spending time with them.  I have 6 siblings, and we are all extremely close.  I also love to go walking, and I like to do this after a stressful day.  It helps me to relax, and clear my mind.  I plan on going walking today; this is something I do 3 times a week.  I have passion for this sport; and I have been playing for 15 years.  I know a lot of information about basketballt, and I love going to professional basketball games.  Ice cream is a food that I look forward to eating each summer.  There are a new flavors that come out in the summer, and I love to try different ones.  My favorite ice cream of all time has to be rocky road, because it has a mixture of nuts and marshmallows.  Buying a tub of ice cream is one of my guilty pleasures in the summer.  Wow, I have already written down 6 topics that I know about and care about:

Siblings: Brothers (Elijah and Ezekiel)

Siblings: Sisiters (Cierra, Olivia, Payton, Amber)



Professional basketball game

Ice cream (rocky road)

Actively Involve

Teacher asks students: “I’ll bet you all are like me and you can think of at least 5 topics, or more, that you might want to write about. Look back at your writing from this morning where you wrote down your “likes.” This may help you as it did me.” (Also, if you did the getting-to-know-you activity, you may point them to the categories you created as a class.)

BEFORE students “Have-a-go,” ask at least one child to come up and “think aloud” how he/she comes up with topic selection. Having the students see their peer demonstrate his/her thinking process is very influential.

Now students are ready to “Have-a-go” on their own…

(Remember 1st day assignment where you wrote a letter to your students introducing yourself to them by discussing your likes and you invited them to write about their likes. Then you had students share and then created categories that featured possible writing topics.)

Another wonderful idea is to mail postcards or letters or write notes each day where you write about your actions, how you look, your dislikes, etc. Each day, focus on a new category.)

This is also the “WRITING” stage of writing workshop. This part of the lesson may be longer if you include this as part of your writing workshop.

Teacher then directs students to get paper, pencils, and find a personal writing place. Students write independently while teacher confers. During conferring the teacher is looking for examples of something to share that students are doing that would benefit the other students. Teacher shares with students, “If you finish writing down your topics and you would like to write about one of your topics, please feel free to do so.”

Share- This is also the “SHARING” stage of writing workshop

Teacher brings class back together and students gather in writing circle where several students share their topics in the Author’s Chair. Children are encouraged to bring their topic lists and add to it, as they may be inspired by their classmates. Teacher praises and affirms students’ topic lists. Teacher points out what she notices about students’ lists.


Teacher shares with students: “So today we generated a list of topics that we might want to write about. WE learned that writers often write about things they care about and know about and find interesting. (Link to specific student examples.) When you all come in tomorrow, I’ll bet you will have PLENTY to write about. Be thinking about what you may want to write about, and if you feel like it, go ahead and give it a try tonight…

Each day in Writing Workshop you will be writing. Your topic list is a tool you may use to help you decide what you want to write about.”

**Teachers, you will need to decide how you wish to launch the writer’s notebook: through invitations, read aloud and storytelling, etc. The idea is for their first entry to be in their writer’s notebooks.**



Day 2 Creating an entry from Writing Topic List


Drafting an entry from ________________ (your topic)

Connect to previous lesson

Teach: Demonstrate for students how to take the topic choice and narrow the focus to a small moment. You may wish to create a web for students and show them how you narrow your focus from a big topic to a small moment. Begin writing an entry about your small moment. Think aloud as you model your small moment story.

Actively Engage: Students will go from topic list to deciding what small moment to write about. Students will then draft an entry.

I am going to do a journal entry for you guys, because I would not ask you to do as for as certain assignments are concerned.  I have decided to write about the first time I met Lisa Leslie.  Does anyone know what the WNBA is? Well it is the women’s national basketball association.  Here is a few pictures of some of the players that play for the WNBA.  Lisa Leslie plays professional basketball for the Los Angeles Sparks, and she is one of the greatest basketball stars in the world.  I think I will write about my trip to see the Sparks play, and my emotions during this experience.  So here goes the start of my journal entry!

When I was a little girl I loved to watch Lisa Leslie play basketball.  She was my favorite women’s basketball player.  Mrs. Leslie was my role model, and I dreamed of being just like her; she played for the WNBA.  She played for team called the Los Angeles, Sparks.  (Let’s see what else I should write about.  Oh ok, I think I’ve got it.)  I have also been told that we look a like, which made me the happiest person as a child.  I mean what kid would not want to look like their favorite professional athlete. 

(What should I begin this paragraph discussing? Hmmmm?  Well we did play the same position.  I will add that information.)  Mrs. Leslie and I even played the same position. We were power forwards, and that name alone made me feel as though I played a special position on the team.  I learned so many moves from watching her games on television.

My father got my sisters, and I tickets to one of her games.  Mrs. Leslie was a basketball super star, and I could not have been any more excited to see her in person.  The game was packed, but we had really great seats in the front row.  I was elated to see this basketball icon perform before my very own eyes.  Each of her moves was done with such grace and ease. 

(Maybe I should talk about the food I purchased at the game or maybe when I got her autograph. BINGO! That sounds like a great idea, because I remember that moment like the back of my hand.)

After the game was over we stayed in the gym to get her autograph.  She was such a beautiful woman that carried herself with an array of confidence.  When she spoke to me I remember taking a deep breath, and telling her I was her biggest fan.  She then told my father to take a picture of us, and she gave me a huge hug.  After that she had to give autographs to her other fans. 

Mrs. Leslie will never know how much of an impact she had in my life.  Even though I did not make a career out of basketball, I finished out my high school years as the captain of my team.  The confidence that she exuberated made one me one of the most powerful players in the league.  I hope that I can be a role model to my students, just as Lisa Leslie was to me.

This is the end of my journal entry I hope you enjoy!


Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to comments via RSS Feed


Block 2



Blog Stats

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1 other follower


%d bloggers like this: