A Day in the Life of an Object

Title: A Day in the Life of an Object

Subject: Writing

Grade Level: 4th

Learning Goal: Students will use the writing process to write a 4 paragraph story about a day in the life of an object the student uses frequently (water bottle, cell phone, piece of gum). Students will use transition words (first, next, then, later, finally) to establish the chronological order of events in the story.

Content Standard:
EL.04.WR.05 Use the writing process–prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing successive versions.

EL.04.WR.06 Focus on a central idea, excluding loosely related, extraneous, and repetitious information.
EL.04.WR.08 Revise drafts by combining and moving sentences and paragraphs to improve the focus and progression of ideas.
EL.04.WR.09 Edit and proofread one’s own writing, as well as that of others, using the writing conventions, and, for example, an editing checklist or list of rules with specific examples of corrections of specific errors.
EL.04.WR.11 Write multi-paragraph compositions that: Provide an inviting introductory paragraph. Establish and support a central idea with a topic sentence at or near the beginning of the first paragraph. Include supporting paragraphs with simple facts, details, and explanations. Present important ideas or events in sequence or chronological order. Provide details and transitions to link paragraphs. Conclude with a paragraph that summarizes the points. Use correct indention.
NETS-S Standard:Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

Materials and Resources Needed: Kidspiration, Comic Life, photo editing software (we used iPhoto), digital camera, art supplies, optional templates (see below).

Summary of Instructional Technology Strategies Used: develop templates to target learning activities and make the most of instructional time, chunk technology instruction into mini lessons throughout class time, provide written instructions for reference during activity, empower students to provide tech support for one another and solve their own technical issues.

Lesson Steps:
The first part of this lesson is whole-class, but then students break up into 2 groups – one group writes while the other group works on their illustrations. Switch the groups each day (or halfway through the daily lesson – whatever works for you) so that all kids get equal time to do both parts of the project.

kidspiration template

Whole group: Introduce the Kidspiration template (see above).
Model filling in the bubbles with details from the perspective of their object. I tell kids to use only one or two words per bubble. All kids need to get their pre-write done before you split the class in half for writing/drawing.
The writers use the writing view (see example below) to build those pre-write details into complete sentences. Remind them to vary the length and beginning words of their sentences.

writing view

Draw-ers should draw one picture for each of their big bubbles
When they have all their sentences written (4 per paragraph), they need to peer-edit and revise with a partner. Focus on conventions, sentence fluency, and consistently writing from the perspective of their object.
Once their writing has been peer-edited and polished, they are ready to start building their Comic Life page. I used a template (see below) to save time and for continuity, but you could have students choose their own templates from the drop-down menu in Comic Life.

comic life template

Kids take pictures of their finished drawings and import them into iPhoto to crop and edit. Then they drag the photos into their Comic Life template.
They also will drag a text box into each square in their template. Then they can cut and paste their sentences from the Kidspiration template into their text boxes to build paragraphs.

Examples of completed student work:

student work 2

student work

Assessment: Use a writing rubric (see Oregon Dept. of Ed. rubric attached) to score students’ writing.


Reflection: I taught this lesson to my 4th graders in January. Students loved incorporating their own art into a digital project, and decided to compile their work into a class book which we printed in color and bound. It is now in our class library for future students to read.

I did not teach my students how to edit their photos before dragging them into the Comic Life document, which was a mistake. I think the final products could have been more polished and students would have learned to take better photos if they had been involved in that step of the process, and it would have required less editing time for me after students turned their completed pages in to my digital drop box.

One other drawback I noticed to this lesson was that sometimes the text boxes imposed on the artwork in a way that made it hard to see the whole picture. I think it would be possible to familiarize students with Comic Life well before attempting this project so they could arrange their panels and text boxes individually, customized for their own project.

I will absolutely do this project again with next year’s class, and I’m excited about having a visual model for students to reference next time around.

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