Here is a student sample that shows evidence of the ways students benefit from the use of graphic organizers (Narrative Writing Diamond), teacher modeling, guided practice, and the use of sentence starters to build vocabulary and fluency.
Teachers often ask, “When do students stop relying on modeling and sentence starters?” I’d like to have a perfect answer to that question but here’s the reality – the modeling component of the methodology allows students to peek inside the mind of the author in order to broaden their experience, enhance their vocabulary, and have a strong model to emulate. Sentence starters add a bit of variety and powerful word choice for students who may not have those tools themselves. I use modeling and sentence starters year round for all grade levels, K-12.
What I’ve seen is that some students rely on the modeling and sentence starters longer than others. They simply need more reinforcement in order to internalize the process and apply it independently. Others, however, begin to compose their own sentence starters and use elements of the model in very creative ways. These students are learning to play with words and syntax and are ready to flex their creative writing bones because they’ve been given the tools they need. Those that still need the scaffolding are reassured by this support, gaining confidence and skill with each subsequent rehearsal.
In the sample below, you’ll see evidence of all parts of the writing diamond. The student sample reflects the learning that has taken place in the classroom. This student is reliant on the diamond structure and is using sentence starters effectively. As this student matures the writing will also mature to the point where the diamond structure melts away, and sentence variety and powerful word choice is evident naturally.
Here’s what worked in the piece: