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Reading and Writing Workshop With Student Round-Robin Participation


Art, Language Arts, Science  


5, 6, 7, 8  

Title – Reading and Writing Workshop With Student Round-Robin Participation

By – Mary A. Mills

Primary Subject – Language Arts

Secondary Subjects – Science, Social Studies, Art

Duration – 2 Weeks

Concept/Topic to Teach: “A Person I Admire – Revealing their Personality through Writings and Observations”

Texas Grades 5-8 Standards Addressed:

  • TEKS 110.6 English Language Arts and Reading
    • TEKS 110.6a4
    • TEKS 110.6b12
    • TEKS 110.6b15

General Goal(s):

The student personally selects an age-appropriate biography of an admired person, reads it and takes notes in order to create new insights into the subject’s life.

Specific Objectives (Learning Outcomes):

  • The student learns to discriminate between fact and opinion (conjecture).
  • The student explores creative writing from a biographical point-of-view, acting as a news reporter who interviews a person of note in a constructive way, sharing new ways of observing the subject.
  • The student writes a rough draft of observations (150-200 word newspaper article) using new vocabulary words noted in Writing Notebook and following basic capitalization and punctuation rules.
  • The student shares their writings in an informal round-robin classroom session.

Required Materials:

  • A biography that is age-appropriate and between 60 and 100 pages long
  • Writing Notebook
  • Pencil/pen
  • Lined paper for rough draft (leaving space between each line of writing for editor comments)
  • Older students will use computer and printer to prepare rough draft and final edition.

Anticipatory Set (Lead-In):

The teacher notes:

Imagine reading a biography of a person’s life and qualify the 5 W’s of information you might reveal to others .

(WHO were they, WHAT did they accomplish, WHY did you select them, WHEN did they live, and WHERE did they reside?). Who would like to volunteer information about a person you have already studied in other classes?”

The teacher includes wait time for less-assured pupils. After someone provides some ideas, the teacher segues classroom toward step-by-step procedures the student will follow to accomplish workshop goals.

Step-by-Step Procedures/Goals and Plans for Independent Practice:

The student pre-selects age-appropriate biography of a person whom they admire (60-100 pages long) and reads it.

The student adds notes to Writing Notebook about specific questions they would ask the subject of the book in an interview, including answers the student thinks the person would reveal to them… things that the student feels would reflect unique personality traits. (Traits are ways of seeing people through observing their actions and reactions). The student also adds new vocabulary words introduced in the story to their Writing Notebook dictionary as they are reading their biography.

The student prepares a 150-200 word first draft of a newspaper article, featuring their biographical subject.

The student then reads and rereads their draft to self-edit it, correcting grammar, punctuation, and capitalization errors, as well as including new vocabulary words learned within the story.

The student finally shares their writings in an informal, round-robin style within the classroom environment.

The teacher models example of original Everything Einstein Spring 2009, Issue 1 – 1st Edition Newspaper Interview, A Visionary (attached). The teacher then asks the students to qualify what is fact and what is opinion in the teacher’s article.

Closure (Reflects Anticipatory Set):

The students will create original newspaper articles that reflect their ability to write thoughtful and discriminating interview material in a real-world newspaper format.

Assessment Based Upon Objectives:

The final draft will be graded by the attached rubric for Grades 4-5, while teachers of Grade 6-8 will use their own rubric preferences for middle school pupils. The students will share their creative writings with the class using a Round Robin venue, which will also be graded using the attached and adapted “General Class Rubric” specifically catered to Round Robin participators.

Adaptations (for LD Students):

The artistic student will create a sample piece of art representing their subject’s style after writing basic 5 W’s – Who, What, When, Where, and Why facts determined from reading their age- and ability-appropriate biography. Their grade will be based upon their creativity and fact-gathering abilities. (Using MS PowerPoint Presentation or a computer Paint Program is encouraged.)

Extensions for Gifted Students:

TEKS 110.7 b21C Take notes in on-line searching.

  • Gifted and Talented pupils will be encouraged to interview a local successful person, gathering facts and writing a second creative newspaper article using MS Word or MS Publisher. GT’s shall research other facts about person online using teacher-prepared Curriculum Page resources.

TEKS 110.6 b15D (Grades 4-5) Found poem, diamonte poem, haiku, or free-form poem.

  • Writing my own original, creative poems inspired by the person I admired in my newspaper article or illustration.

(See attached copyrighted poem, FLUX , shared by Mary Mills after she created a newspaper entitled Everything Einstein in her Writing Workshop class. Teachers are welcomed to inspire future poets by including the poem within their workshop agendas.)

TEKS 110.6 b15A (Grade 5) Write to express, reflect, or entertain.

  • Create a crossword using facts about the subject’s life.
  • Prepare an original mock interview of subject and videotape the information (2-member teams), remembering to reveal character traits in a positive manner.

TEKS 110.7 b15E (Grades 4-5) Exhibit identifiable voice in personal narratives and in stories.

  • Find memorable quotes by and about your admired person.

Connections to Other Subjects:

  • SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY: Research a technological invention of the 20th Century (1900′s) or 19th Century (1800′s), then make a model of the discovery (Legos or dioramas).
  • SOCIAL STUDIES: Locate two basic reference volumes about Black-American inventors or scientists in the school or public library. Select two men and two women, preparing a timeline which details when their four (or more inventions) were marketed. Write a brief biography about each person (Include 5W’s).
  • MEDICAL SCIENCE: After reading the FLUX poem limned by Mills (attached), research how Velcro has been deployed in sports medicine or hospital applications to enable speedier patient recovery. Illustrate these uses on a poster.
  • ART: Draw a picture (original collage) of an inventor, naming the person and adding magazine- or Internet-copied pictures which illustrate how their invention is used in everyday life. Remember to document the site or journal used by placing the URL name as a caption under each picture within the collage.
  • SCIENCE/HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE FAIR: Invent a new use for an existing invention. Create a new application for the product, preparing a trifold display. (Follow proper safety rules when testing new use – no hazardous fumes, volatile materials, chemical reactions, or explosive devices, etc. are permitted.)
  • LANGUAGE ARTS/MUSIC: Listen to a CD of Newberry-Award Book being read by a professional reader. Write an original song, poem, or rap about the story. (Auditory Learners)


Final Draft Rubric for Writing Workshop
“Reflecting on the Person I Admire”



No information provided – follows a logical sequence.


Student jumps around in telling story. Reader loses train of thought.


Reader can follow student’s logical train of thought in telling story.


Story is logical, interesting, and sequential; therefore, reader enjoys story.


Organized – Sequence


Content Knowledge


The student does not grasp information, nor can they answer questions about their subject when asked.


The student does not understand content nor how to share basic feelings about the subject in written format.


The student does understand content, but does not reflect or elaborate on how they relate to the content.


Student writing reflects full understanding of subject by relating directly to the content, sharing feelings and adding new insight.


Grammatical – Other Errors


The student ignores most capitalization or punctuation marks and does not apply any new words learned in their story.


The student capitalizes and punctuates in a hit-or-miss style. New words learned are not correctly applied in their story.


The student has two or less capitalization or punctuation errors and applies new words learned in their story correctly.


The student’s work includes no grammatical errors in capitalization and punctuation. New words applied in meaningful ways.




The student paper is illegible and incoherent (makes no sense), frustrating the reader.


The student paper has two or three sentences that make no sense to the reader, or are sloppy.


The student paper has one or two areas that need revising, but logical thought and neatness are evident.


The student presents the person they admire in a neat, coherent manner, which inspires the reader to want to learn more about them.

Total Points Earned:


E V E R Y T H I N G   E I N S T E I N

SPRING 2009 Edition   Issue 1   1st Edition

 A Visionary

A Curious, Free-Thinking, and Warmly Gentle Man   Staff Reporter, Mary Mills

Evelyn Einstein remembers her grandfather, Albert, as a person who treated her as an equal. He never condescended nor talked down to her. Instead, he threw himself into being a child with her.

     She recalls his almost childlike awe of the universe as well as his lifelong love of sailing and music. Einstein’s early years were filled with rote learning and memorizing of facts and figures. The high school he attended touted that its instructors prepared pupils for university study. Albert found this school even more militaristic. Young Einstein bored easily in subjects like Greek. He became a “thorn in the side” to some instructors, one of whom stated in front of the class that Albert probably would never amount to anything. How short-sighted!

     I savor the affection and respect Einstein showed his granddaughter, Evelyn. His love of music, especially the violin, reflects a bohemian nature. Albert’s lifelong study and application of math and science principles, particularly physics, encouraged other free thinkers to develop space-related sciences and technological applications. I am awed by his self-effacing nature and by his depth of vision.

Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein by Marfe Ferguson Delano. Wash., D.C.: National Geographic, 2005

F L U X Mary Mills c1996

(Einstein and Carl Sagan inspired me to write this poem).

The Universe expands…contracts…yawns…belches…

She is more than the sum total of the objects She contains…

Less than ominiscient about Her ultimate fate.

She is in a constant state of mindless flux,

Displaying blatant disregard for man’s temporary whims and selfish needs.

She obeys only those laws that are natural to maintaining Her own immortality,

Making new laws when older ones have become obsolete.

Then comes Man who invents Velcro, which is the epitome of what Man creates when total control of the universe becomes impossible.

Velcro transmogrifies the life of Man, allowing a person a greater degree of control over his/her universe, microcosmically speaking.

Technologically speaking, Velcro is the greatest invention of the twentieth century,

And Man is constantly discovering new ways to exploit Velcro more lucratively.

But, in the end, Velcro will be superseded by some other great idea or man-made invention, while the Universe mindlessly continues to direct the ultimate fate of Man.

Original  Da Vinci toothpick craft 2007 Adapted in Corel by Mary Mills     Published Poetic Voices of America, Spring 1996, Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum, page 48

Memorable Quotes of Albert Einstein:

“One thing I have learned in a long life; that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world.”

…”I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up.” Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein by Marfe Ferguson Delano. Wash., D.C.: National Geographic, 2005

Student Challenge:  Find the word transmogrifies in this Newsletter, add it to your Vocabulary Notebook, write sentence with it, and describe definition in your own words, for 5 points extra credit…Be sure to show the teacher.



Phone Interview




Craft Example

Mock Interview

 Round Robin



Student Shares a  Book



Editor:  “Like Math and Latin (your favorite subjects), Greek is a logical language.  Why didn’t you learn Greek?”

Albert: “Studying Greek was boring to me, period!”

Editor: “A family friend gave you a geometry textbook. How did you feel about studying geometry?

Albert: “That geometry textbook profoundly affected my imagination, inspiring me to take calculus later.”

Editor: “You renounced your German citizenship when you observed Hitler’s psychotic attitude toward the Jewish nation.”

Albert: “Absolutely, (not relatively), correct.”

Editor: “I read that you do not wear, nor have ever worn, socks. Am I correct in making this assumption?”

Albert: “Yes. I am finally old enough to refuse to wear socks.”

Sources Consulted:

Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein by Marfe Ferguson Delano. Wash., D.C.: National Geographic, 2005

Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified by Richard Wolfson. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003


Place your name stick in the tin can on the teacher’s desk to be considered for ROUND ROBIN READING of the books, Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown, and Albert Einstein: A Biography by Milton Meltzer. The teacher will shake the can into a paper bag and randomly select different readers.



I am Jeremy, and I am in third grade.  I asked the librarian if I have enough prior knowledge to read the book, Odd Boy Out: Young Einstein, by Don Brown. She checked with my teacher, who said that I was picking “just the right book for my reading- and interest- level.”  I would like to share my favorite page in the book with other students.  This book does not have page numbers, so look for the page which has a many-sided box, cones, and triangles.  My classmates know that I love math, and each time I look at this picture, I think about making box kites, eating ice cream cones, and wearing a clown cap at Halloween.

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Ask Teacher for answer grid.

E-Mail Mary Mills !

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