Saturday, January 18, 2014

Diary of a Second Grader - a class writing project

Hey everyone!  I'm Allie from Ms. Lilypad's Primary Pond.  I'm a first and second grade Dual Language teacher, and I've also taught Kindergarten and PreK.  I love the primary grades!  I'm also a reading specialist and just love teaching writing, so I think it's fitting that my first post on the blog will be about a writing project I did recently with my second graders!  

So for our first week back after winter break, I wanted an activity that would be fun, somewhat brief, and help get my little writers back into the groove of things.  So I came up with our "Diary of a Second Grader" project!  This was partially inspired by the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and movies (I'm not the biggest fan, but my kids do love them).  Diary-style books seem to be pretty popular now, so my kiddos immediately bought into the project.

The project really only took 3 days (or 3 writing workshop blocks, rather).  Here's the breakdown of what we did each day:

Day 1:  Brainstorming

I started off this lesson by introducing the project.  I explained that each student in the class would be writing just one diary entry.  They could write it as themselves, they could write it as someone else, it could be realistic or off-the-wall:  it was their choice.  I just asked that they each pretend to be a second grader writing the entry, because our book title was going to be "Diary of a Second Grader - A Day in the Life."  I told them that I was going to put all their entries together to make a compilation book, and bind it so that everyone in the class could read it.

Then, I asked my kiddos what books they'd read that were written in a diary format, and they named a few.  Then, I brought out this book:

This is Diary of a Spider, by Doreen Cronin.  There are some other similar books out there, like Diary of a Worm.  Anyway, I told my students that I was going to read them just a few entries from the book.  I asked them to think about what they noticed about the diary entries as they were listening to the story.  I also projected the book so that they could see it more clearly.

After I finished reading a few entries, we made this anchor chart:

You will have to forgive me; I am not one of those teachers who can make gorgeous anchor charts! :)  

After we made the chart, I wrote this on the board:

Who - 

What - 
When - 
Where -

I asked students to tell a partner about their plans for their own diary entries by explaining who was going to be the main character, what was going to happen in the entry, when it was going to happen, and where it was going to take place.  Then, I had them take out a sheet of paper and jot down their plans.  That's it for Day One!

Day 2:  Drafting

On the second day, the kids took out their plans from the previous day and began drafting.  I gave them lined writing paper that had a place for the date.  We also went over the anchor chart from the previous day.  As I conferred with the students, most of them got the idea, but some were writing their entries as fictional stories in the third person.  I took out one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and explained how it was different from a typical story, and then they caught on.

Here's one of my kiddos hard at work on her draft!  

Day 3:  Publishing

By the third day, quite a few students had already finished their first drafts.  I began the lesson by asking the kids, "If you know that your diary entry is going to be read by everyone in the class, what does that tell you about how your work should be?"  They pointed out that it needed to be written neatly, have good spelling/capitalization/punctuation, lots of details, etc.  I explained that everyone would be finishing their entries, proofreading them, and then copying them over onto a fresh sheet of paper.  I supported the kids in fixing up their work, and I also gave them extra writing time today so that everyone could finish.  A lot of my kids typically finish their writing quickly and tell me that there are absolutely no errors in their work.  But this day, I really felt that they were taking their time to make their writing look nice.  Just goes to show the importance of having a real audience, right?!

Here's the finished class book!

They were so excited to read it and take turns with it!  This definitely turned out to be a highly-motivating project for them.

By the way, I also allowed each child to draw a picture to go with their diary entry, if they wanted.  I laid out the book like this, so you can see both the diary entry and picture:

That's it for today!  Happy writing!



  1. Would you be able to share the cover for your diary of a Second grader?
    I would love to incorporate it into my class in September.
    Thanks so much