Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Realistic Fiction Genre

One of my third grade writing units is realistic fiction.  I tend to struggle teaching this unit because it is a not a  genre that I typically write.  Personal narratives, essays and nonfiction writing seem much more comfortable for me to model and teach.  This year I challenged myself to write along side my students using my drafts as a teaching tool.  Before we began I modeled my thinking about possible ideas emphasizing that stories begin based on events in your life.  Then I used our story summary sentence starters as an outline to begin the brainstorm process ( someone.. wanted.... but.. so ... then... ) after which we used the story mountain to layout more details of our story ideas.  We read some of Patricia Polacco books along with other realistic fiction mentor text.  Then I jumped in with them writing and revising.  I realized quickly that they have a difficult time getting started so we worked on establishing a setting and characters with lots of rich details asking the 5w questions.
 I left the end of my story off and they helped me think of different believable ways that my story could end.  We worked  a lot on elaboration - adding dialogue, action, sensory details, etc.  This seemed to be the hardest skill for them which we will continue to work on.  As I reflect on how the realistic writing unit went this year I feel that I have done a much better job teaching them fiction writing skills than in the past because I wrote along side of them thinking about what my struggles were. 

Realistic Fiction Model:

WRITTEN BY: Mrs. Shrontz


It was a cold rainy day, too miserable to play outdoors.  So, Clair had an idea!  “Gordon, let’s toss the ball around inside.” Now, Clair and Gordon were brother and sister. They were only two years apart in age. Clair was the older sister they lived in and old brick houses that was at least 150 years old. The rooms were filled with many valuable and fragile antiques. Many of them were family heirlooms that had been passed down from generation to generation.  One of their mom’s favorite antiques was an old wooden chime clock that hung on the wall in the living room it had a glass front where you could see the gold pendulum swing back and forth keeping time every hour on the hour.  It would chime bong, bong, bong.., .three o’clock.


Now Gordon was just 7 years old and was easily influenced by his older sister.  One time she talked him into trying to grab the rooster in the hen house but after a lot of scuffling around he only came out with scratches all over him and Clair stood in the doorway just chuckling away.  This time though Gordon was determined to not let her talk him into doing something he would regret. “Clair, I don’t think this is a good idea” he told her as she ran to the back porch to grab the soft ball and a mitt. 

 “Oh please stop being a baby!” Clair replied over her shoulder.  No really Gordon warned her.  But Clair wasn’t listening.  She was tired of everyone trying to tell her what to do.  She was 9 years old and she could take care of herself.  Besides what could happen? 


Clair scooped up her leather Wilson baseball mitt and her baseball.  Gordon was still muttering to himself as she confidently strolled to the living room.  “Ok first you toss the ball to me and I’ll catch it with my lucky mitt.”  Clair declared to Gordon tossing him the ball.  The first throw was weak and it just fizzled to the floor.  “Come on!”  Clair complained. 
“Well we are in the house!” Gordon replied back.  Gordon kept thinking that this was not a good idea but whenever he went against his sister’s wishes it always ended up with his sister teasing him until he blew his cool.


 So, to make things easier he went along.  Gordon threw the ball this time with a little more power behind it make sure to swing his arm over his head before letting the ball go.  Clair was getting bored fast!  This was definitely not as much fun as going outside in their huge back yard.  Her mind began to wander off thinking of yesterday when she was picked at recess to be on the cool team.  That had never happened before but word was getting around that she had a strong throwing arm. 


Then all of a sudden her attention was brought back with the whirring of the ball heading straight for her head.  Quick as lightning she whipped her mitt up just in time to catch the ball.   “It’s about time!  Good throw, Gordy.”  Clair complimented her brother. Gordon soaked up the rare compliment.  Then Clair tossed him her mitt. 
“Your turn, let’s see how good your reflexes are.”  Gordon pushed his hand in the mitt.  It was a little too big so it kept slipping off when he swung his arm but he wasn’t going to say a word.


“Ok, bring it on!” Gordon said confidently, still thinking about the compliment. Clair wound her arm up for the pitch and when the ball left her hand it seem to float in the air.  Slowly, making its way across the room as Gordon lifted his mitt the unthinkable happened. 


The mitt slipped off his hand and the ball seemed to have a mind of its own slipping through his fingers.  It flew by him.  KAACCCHHHH!  The sound of glass shattering. They both stood there speechless.  Slowly they made their way over the grandfather clock hanging on the wall both knowing what they would find but dreading how bad it would be.  As they stood there looking at the crack in the glass that run all the way from one corner to another their mother walked in.


“What was that noi…?”  Mother began but then noticed right away what they were staring at.  “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”  She raised her voice staring back and forth between the two.  Clair automatically pointed at Gordon and he pointed at back at her. “Clair?!  Gordon?! I want to know what the truth is here!” Mother demanded.  Gordon hung his head.  He knew that he shouldn’t have been playing ball in the house but Clair was so convincing. 


At first Clair was going to just blame it all on Gordon because it would be easy to do that to her little brother and let him take the fall but something inside of her just couldn’t let that happen.  He was her little brother after all she had to be the bigger person.  “Mom, it’s all my fault!  I talked Gordy into playing ball in the house. I’m sorry!”  Clair confessed.  Gordon’s head snapped up and looked at his big sister with a new sense of wonder.  Did she really take the heat?  He couldn’t believe it!   Gordon didn’t realize it but at that moment was the beginning of a new friendship that would last forever.


  1. I'm sure the kids enjoyed helping you develop this story. I loved the foreshadowing that had me worried what would get broken. So many rich details! It is amazing how student's writing is raised when they've had a chance to work the process, but not own it.

  2. I love this Kris! I think writing along side our students is the key to so many things. It is easier for me to teach my students to think about reading because I read myself. It's easier to teach writing skills when you are struggling with them at the same time. Sure, the level is different, but the real struggles are still there. Awesome post! Glad you shared!