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.