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Take your writing to a new level with a highly engaging Carousel Writing Activity. Directions for Small Groups and Whole Group Included.

Can you actually use a carousel activity in writing? A carousel activity is when you have group of students working on an activity at one station for a set period of time before moving onto the next one.  Of course you can use this for writing!

Last week, I shared with you 9 ways to use writing prompts in your classroom. If you have not read this yet, I highly recommend stopping by for a visit. Your lesson plans and students will thank you.

What is a Carousel Activity?

 

When you think of this activity I want you to picture the fair ride with the horses going around and around in a circle always in the same direction. The children are smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves. This is the environment that you want to create for your students. Each area has a group of children smiling, laughing, and enjoying learning. They are working on the task for a set amount of time before moving onto the next area and the next task.

What does this look like in the classroom?

 

Your students will (typically) be standing up, moving from one area of the room to the next. They will be talking, thinking, learning, and everyone has to be engaged. There is simply no way not to be engaged.

When do you use Carousel Activities?

 

This activity is one of the procedures that I teach during the first week back to school I use this activity whenever I am wanting my students moving, sharing their current knowledge, and questioning what they still need to learn.

Directions for Small Groups

The small group carousel activity is completed in table groups or teams as a review activity after we have focused on a specific portion of writing (adding descriptive words, creating a strong introduction, etc…).This carousel activity is different than then usual loud, active activity. In this, students are sitting at the desk. One student is writing while the remaining students work on an alternate activity. There is no talking until the end… and that is when the laughing begins.

This activity can be used with any type of writing. The directions below were specifically written for a narrative or opinion based writing piece. It can be adapted for procedural writing, poems, and research based reports.

 

Lesson Set-up

 

Introduce the writing activity to your students reinforcing your current writing expectations.
Materials Needed: Writing Prompt, Writing Paper, Pencils, Timer

Pass out the writing prompt face down to a specific student in each group. Do not let them read the prompt yet. Remind everyone that only the student with the prompt may read it. It cannot be shared with the group at this time.Determine how you want your students to rotate during the activity.  Each round  the writing will be passed onto the next student. This is set up during the first week of school and changes based upon the needs of my students.

Please adjust the timer settings based upon the needs and abilities of your students.

Round 1: Introduction

Set the timer for 3-7 minutes.The student with the writing prompt will work on creating a strong introduction while his group members work on another project.

His/her job will be to describe the prompt without copying it word for word. It can be restated but he/she must build a picture of what the prompt is for his/her teammates. Remember, only this student will know what the writing prompt is until the end of the assignment.

Round 2: Body 1

Set the time for 30-90 seconds to allow the next student time to read what was written.

Set the timer for 3-7 minutes.

This student will continue where the introduction left off carefully crafting the first part of the body. This student should be focusing on one detail from the introduction and using colorful language should continue to build a picture of what the prompt is about.

Round 3: Body 2

Same directions as for round 2.Note: if you have larger teams, please repeat the instructions from round 2 for each additional student. This will increase the body of your paper.

Round 4: Conclusion

Set the timer for 2-4 minutes. Allow your student to immerse themselves in the story written.Set the timer 2-6 minutes.

 

This student is wrapping up the story with a great conclusion. The requirements of the conclusion will depend upon the type of writing. The student will need to restate the prompt. However, they will have to guess what that is based upon what has been written by his/her teammates.

Round 5:  Presentation

The paper has now made it around all of the members of the team and is now in the hands of the writer of the introduction.

Set the timer for 2-4 minutes.

The keeper of the writing prompt (aka the writer of the introduction) will now read aloud the writing prompt and/or picture.

Next, the writer of the first body paragraph will read aloud the story. Be prepared for a lot of laughs and discussion!

Wrapping Up

Set the time for 3-5 minutes.Students will work with their teams to write 3 goals on how to improve their writing group next time. If your students are struggling, prompt them with guiding questions.

 

  • Does your writing match the prompt? Why or why not?
  • Was the descriptive language adequate? Why or why not?
  • What would you have changed or added to the piece?
  • Did the introduction, conclusion, and body meet are class standards?
  • How is the spelling, grammar, and legibility?
  • Was the same tone used throughout?
  • Did the point of view remain the same throughout?

Directions for Whole Groups

Now that we know how to use the carousel activity in small groups… let’s talk about doing it with the entire class! This activity can easily get out of hand and loud if the expectations have not been put in place. Please take a moment to review your classroom expectations for behavior during this activity, how to work and communicate as a team, and writing expectations.

I use this activity when introducing a new piece of writing or topic. This allows the students to collaborate and get the support that they need while learning new material.

 

Lesson Set-up

 

Pass out the writing prompt face down to each group. Do not let them read the prompt yet. Remind the class that only the group with the writing prompt can know what it is. Assign one group member to be in charge of their prompt. Each group will have a different prompt.
 Materials Needed: 1 Writing Prompt per team, Anchor Chart Paper, Timer, Colored   Pens (or Markers)

Determine how you want your students to rotate during the activity.  Each round the writing will be passed onto the next group. With each round, I expect a different team member to write.  This is set up during the first week of school and changes based upon the needs of my students.Please adjust the timer settings based upon the needs and abilities of your students.

Round 1: Introduction

Set the timer for 2-5 minutes.The student in charge of the writing prompt will read it aloud to his/her teammates. Remember this is top secret! Do not let another group hear what you are saying. After reading aloud, students should discuss the prompt and plan what they want to write.

Stop the discussion. Remind students of expectations.

Set the timer for 3-7 minutes.

Whoever is writing for the group this round will begin crafting the introduction while receiving assistance and feedback from group members. Things to talk about: word choice, word order, descriptive language, spelling, and how to restate the prompt without copying it.

Round #2: Body 1

Allow 10-20 seconds to move to the next group. This is done quickly and quietly. Hand off the colored pen to the next writer and make sure you bring your writing prompt with you. Remember, it is top secret!

Set a timer for 2-4 minutes. One team member will read the introduction written by the previous team aloud. Discuss the what they believe the prompt is and is the most important detail from the first paragraph that they can expand upon.Stop the discussion. Remind students of expectations.

Set the timer for 3-7 minutes.

 

The new writer will now craft the body paragraph with the assistance of his/her teammates.

Rounds #3: Body 2

Repeat Round 2. Remember to change writers.

 

Rounds #4: Body 3

Repeat Round 2. Remember to change writers.Add additional body paragraphs for each additional team you have (example: 6 teams = 6 rounds).

Round #5: Conclusion

Allow 10-20 seconds to move to the next group. This is done quickly and quietly. Hand off the colored pen to the next writer and make sure you bring your writing prompt with you. Remember, it is top secret!

Set a timer for 2-4 minutes. One team member will read aloud the story as it has been written to date.
Set a timer for 3-7 minutes. Write a compelling conclusion to wrap-up your story. Remember to use strong language and restate what the prompt is based upon what you have read. Remember, the actual prompt is still a secret.

Round #6: Presentation

 

Allow 10-20 seconds to move to the next group. This is done quickly and quietly. The cap on the color pen should be tightly back in its place. Have 1 student return it to its proper place.Your students have now returned to where they began. I ask all students to sit at the desks (even if they are not theirs) for the next portion of this task.

Group 1 will read their prompt aloud to the class. A different teammate will then read the story aloud to the class. Prepare for lots of laughter and comments. Continue until all groups have had a chance to read aloud their stories.

Wrap-Up

Set the time for 3-5 minutes.Students will work with their teams to write 3 goals on how to improve their writing as a group next time. If your students are struggling, prompt them with guiding questions.

 

  • Does your writing match the prompt? Why or why not?
  • Was the descriptive language adequate? Why or why not?
  • What would you have changed or added to the piece?
  • Did the introduction, conclusion, and body meet are class standards?
  • How is the spelling, grammar, and legibility?
  • Was the same tone used throughout?
  • Did the point of view remain the same throughout?