he idea for the second class came from something I read in Kelly Gallagher's Teaching Adolescent Writers. In it he shares an idea of how he sometimes handles giving feedback to student writers-- highlighting strong lines in yellow and referring to them as "golden lines."
In the hopes of building both community and confidence in a classroom of fresh-faced writers, I planned on this day being a golden line day. Everyone would write, share, and have celebrated a golden line.
After the students found their name card and new seat I asked them to look at the neighborhood map they created yesterday. Look at everything with a new eye. Which one place, thing, event, moment would you consider as one of the most important to you? Explain that in writing on the back of your name card (I gave the students two classes to have their writers notebooks in class). I also liked the idea of developing a piece of a writing around and on this name card...we started with their name and now we are writing about things which are important to us.
After roughly ten minutes of writing I asked the students to pause and read back to themselves what they wrote. I asked them to think about what was really the important issue they were driving at...what idea, concept, big picture, were they really writing about. Skip a space and process what they believe is really the important idea in what they wrote.
After another five minutes, we then did a large group share. After the first student read, I asked him to place a little tick mark next to one particularly strong sentence. Then, I had another student read and asked her to mark a strong sentence of hers. After modeling this, I had all of the students share their writing in their small groups--and asked the group members to decide for each student which one line should be marked as a strong line.
After everyone read and had a line selected, each student rewrote his/her line on a yellow strip of construction paper. We then hung all of these up on a classroom bulletin board labeled "Golden Lines."
My closing message was that they all were writers, but like all writers they would have to work at it this year, and part of that work would include supporting each other.