Putting a Stop to "The End"

Using Mentor Text for writing better endings in stories #mentortext #writingminilesson

Do your students finish their story with "the end" as the last line? You know what I am talking about... they have a great hook that caught the reader's attention, they used some details that tell what happens and then they just stop writing and add those two three-letter words: The End.

For years this has been a struggle for me. I have struggled with wondering why "the end" keeps popping up at the end of my student's writing... is it something I do during read aloud? Do I close the book and say the end? Do their parents do that when they finish reading to them? How can I teach them to change this habit? Oh yeah ... use mentor texts that have good endings!

The Elephant of Surprise!

#MentorText for writing with an element of surprise #writinglessons

A couple of weeks ago a new book was sitting on the shelf in our school media center. It was Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein. This book initially caught my attention because my students loved the first story about the little chicken that always interrupts his grandpa. I checked it out and read it to my class and instantly thought it would be a great mentor text for a mini-lesson for adding surprises.

Writing with an element of surprise #mentortext #writingworkshop #writingcraft
The little chicken's teacher said that all good stories have an elephant of surprise!

Please Read it Again!

My students loved this book so much, they asked me to read it again the next morning. This second read led to a great discussion about what it means to have an element of surprise because little chicken asked his grandpa about it in the story. You see, he was a little confused because he thought his teacher said "elephant" not element. Rereading that page in the story allowed us to talk about little chicken's confusion and the fact that there were not really elephants that create the surprise in a book.

We talked about why writers might add an element of surprises to their writing. We talked about where they might add an element of surprise. And then, it happened, one of my students said, "We need to go on a book hunt and look for some more books that have an 'elephant' of surprise!" And so this led to the first step in our learning ... the inquiry stage. They needed to see that it was not just in one book, but in a lot of different books by different authors.

Hunting For More Elephants

I LOVE when my students discover what we are learning about in the books they read. This really is my favorite part for beginning discussion about a skill, writing craft or a new topic of learning. During the next couple of days my students started collecting books and adding them to a tub near our gathering area where we do most of our whole group instruction. They found "elephants" in books they read in their guided reading groups, our classroom library and from the school library. I heard them telling their classmates about the elephants of surprise in a book they had read. It was so much fun to listen to their conversations and see how excited they were to find so many books that had surprise endings or elements of surprise within the story! 
These are some of the #MentorText that have Surprise Endings.#usingmentortext #writingminilessons #writingcraft
Just a few of our favorite books we found on the elephant hunt that have an element of surprise in them.

#guidedreading #mentortext #writinglessons #narrativewriting
We even found surprises in the leveled books from our guided reading lessons!

Charting Our Findings and Next Steps

Once we were finished hunting for "elephants of surprise" in the books we were reading, we began charting our findings on an anchor chart. I created a mini-anchor chart for my students so that they could copy down some of our findings and add it as a resource to their writing folder.  This is as far as we got so far, but the excitement is still in the air. They were overheard talking about books and their surprise endings at lunch and recess today! Our next step will be to go on a hunt for other kinds of endings, name the type of endings and then chart them. This will enable my young writers to sit on the shoulder of mentor authors by using their texts as a bridge from "the end" to better endings in their own stories. I can't wait to see how their writing evolves. We are still in the inquiry stage of our learning. We will begin our application stage when we begin our next narrative piece in writing workshop. I can't wait to come back and share their work with you ... I will post a link here to the next post when it is ready!
#mentortext #elementofsurprise #writingconclusions #surpriseendings

Now, For Your Surprise ... 

A freebie and a giveaway ... that's always a nice surprise, right!!??  All you have to do is click on the image below to grab the freebie from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and then enter the giveaway by following the directions in the rafflecopter!
#freebie #mentortext #elementofsurprise #writinglessons

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope this post inspires you to go on a book hunt so your students can inquire about the craft of writing. In the comment area below, leave a comment and share how you share or use mentor texts in your classroom.
Happy reading ... and writing,

This post is part of a link up I am doing with my Reading Crew friends!! Check out the other excellent mentor text lessons in this link-up by using the links below! As an added bonus, each blogger is having their own giveaway!!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
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