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REVIEW Unit Launch

This week I launched a REVIEW UNIT in several third grade classrooms. On the first day I asked, “Have you ever heard of a review?” Heads shook.

“Okay, then, let me show you some,” I said. We spent time looking at some reviews I pulled up via the internet on the SmartBoard. We read reviews from Amazon about the Ramona books, then about this Lego City train system. We clicked over to a gaming site to read reviews on Mario Kart Wii.

After the Ramona reviews, I asked kids to talk about their theories about reviews. We began a list:

What someone thinks about a book.

A comment about a book.

Then we read the Lego City Train reviews. And they talked some more, adjusting their thinking as they read more reviews.

What someone thinks about a book or some other thing.

A comment about a book the thing they are talking about.

Something they care about and want others to get too.

The talk was abundant and about to get even more lively as I introduced them to video game reviews. We read, they talked, and we added to our growing list:

What someone thinks about a book or some other thing.

A useful comment about a book the thing they are talking about.

Something they care about and want others to get too.

Sometimes they give it a rating.

They’re short.

They were beginning to see the possibilities, so I asked, “What kinds of things do you think we could write reviews about.”

The chatter became focused, and they began making lists in their notebooks. We compiled their ideas on the SmartBoard.








Vacation spots




TV shows

Workshop was getting near the end. Everyone was still in the meeting area, but no one was off task. The talk filled the room. I liked the sound of it. Instead of sending them back to their writing spaces, I invited them to make a list in their notebooks about possible reviews they could write.

For the next ten-ish minutes, notebooks were filled. As they talked, ideas were generated, and pencils filed ideas on the page. At the end of workshop, everyone shared an idea on their list…and recorded more ideas as their classmates shared. “This is a share,” I said, “designed to help you get more ideas. The minute an idea pops into your head, put it on your list. The biggest compliment you can get during this share is if you say an idea and someone else writes it down.” We shared. They continued to talk. Workshop ended and they were itching to write reviews.

Sometimes the format of workshop shifts a little when we launch a new unit. It was okay that the minilesson blended into work time and work time morphed into sharing.  I could get a handle on what everyone was learning and understanding. I could see everyone’s notebooks, and help tweak the lists they were starting. The energy bubbled from one writer to another.

I believe this is a successful launch into the unit.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

13 thoughts on “REVIEW Unit Launch Leave a comment

  1. I love the way you capitalized on the sharing session by saying, “The biggest compliment you can get during this share is if you say an idea and someone else writes it down.” I’ve encouraged students to write down ideas they here from others in their notebooks, but this wording takes it a level up. The kids understand how important it IS to be participating.


  2. I had to put this post into my Delicious account as I know I will want to revisit it. This year I shifted from any kind of book report to reviews. The idea of teaching real life skills resounded with me. It was just a start. Your ideas will help me develop my own lessons further. We only looked at book reviews. I hadn’t thought about what else they could review. Thanks for sharing.


  3. As a third grade teacher, I LOVED reading this post. What a great way to get kids to really think and write about literature in a meaningful way.
    Coming to Room 204 SOON (thanks to you)!


  4. As our district moves away from Writing Workshop and now expects teachers to use a purchased writing program (full of isolated skills- somewhat jumbled together), I love getting on your site and hearing about creative and meaningful lessons.


  5. I love this opening to a unit!
    I focused it primarily on food as a web search found ice cream critics, soda critics, potato chip critics, etc….

    Our writing became foucsed under the the idea of being a “Snack Food Critic.” I love opening to a wider circle.


  6. It really sounds like a terrific start. I love that you began with looking together at ideas from the net. I just learned to hook up my IPad to a whiteboard & am planning to do some of that with memoir. You gave me a clearer picture of how to proceed, Ruth. Thanks always for the details!


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