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In this lesson students use a timeline to develop writing ideas


Language Arts  



Title – A Time Line for Writing Ideas
By – Marybeth L. Brown
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects –
Grade Level – 4th

Objectives: TSWBAT
1. To help students identify important events in their lives.
2. To help students begin keeping folders of writing ideas.
3. To design a cover page for their folders.

Pencil, Paper, Sample time line, a marker board and markers, construction paper, glue or tape

What is your earliest memory? Ask the students this question and get the response from several students in the class, or/and if they are short from all the students.

Coming up with a story idea is usually the hardest part of writing. For this reason writers usually try to gather lost of story ideas in folders or notebooks until they are ready to write. Today we are going to start a folder that will give you a head start when you are searching for something to write about. What we are going to do is called a time line.

Sequence of Activities:
1. Have students take out a sheet of paper and something to write with, while the students are doing this show the sample time line.
2. Brainstorm – have the students call out different exciting time in their lives, events that are important to them and write their ideas on the board. Ex – birthday, moving, sports, a pet dying, the new baby, etc.
3. Organize the list on the board according to categories. Ex – Sporting events, Party experience, etc. Explain to the children that they do not have to use them all.
4. Then while writing a time line skeleton on the board explain these steps.
           A. On the right-hand side of your time line, write the current year.
           B. Then go backward in time, filling in the years. The year you were born will be at the left-hand side of the time line. You may not have to use the entire line.
           C. Write words or phrases above and below the line that tell about the important events in your life.
           D. Draw a line from the words to the time line to indicate the year in which each event occurred.
5. Once the students have basically finished their time lines, have the students look over their rough drafts for weaknesses in their paper that need to be corrected. Such as – obviously missing words; rough, uneven, or awkward sounding phrases, words out of order, missing ideas, etc.
6. Have the students exchange papers and have them respond to the rough drafts with praises and suggestions. Looking for items like – Are there any entrees that are too much alike, Can you think of any other category they might want to put on their time line. (The papers can be passed to more than just one student)
7. Have the students get their own papers back and making the changes they want. Ex. Adding or taking away, following the suggestions written own their papers.
8. Have the students re-read and edit their entries for spelling mistakes, and if they did the time line wrong to correct it. ex some might have put an entry from last week about an inch from the left side and not have had room to put all the earlier entries in front of it.
9. Have the students recopy their work on to a fresh sheet of paper.
10. Have the students mount there time lines onto a sheet of construction paper using glue or tape.
11. Have the students open a program (word or a draw program) and design a cover document for their folders. Make sure they included their name on the cover.

Note: You might want to do step 11 on another day.

While the students are finishing up have several of the student (if they want) share there time lines with the class. If there is time you might have the student tell about one of the most important events in their life. Tell the class as you can see writing can be a lot of fun and you have just collected quite a few ideas to write about. (Have the students place their finished time line in their writing folder(with their new cover page), so they can refer to them whenever they need a good idea for a writing topic.)

Evaluation of Students:
Listen as the students read there time lines aloud and as they are working on their paper walk around the room and observe their work. Check to make sure they are getting the important events in their lives, also make sure they file their time line in the folders properly and that the students can easily get to the folders. (You might want to keep each student’s folder in a special filing cabinet.)

Analysis of Lesson:
Ask yourself question like – did the students enjoy the lesson, what could be improved, what where the areas that caused problem, etc.

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