End of the Year Writing Reflection
Undiscovered Author Writing Reflection Activity
Perfect project for Open House! The Undiscovered Author Writing Reflection is a fun end of the year writing activity inspired by Playbill Biographies. During this writing project, students reflect on their writing assignments for the year. This writing reflection makes a great cover piece for student writing portfolios and they are very cute to hang up at Open House!
During this writing project, students go through their writing portfolios and review all their hard work. In my class, we type final drafts for most of our writing on iPads, so we have writing saved on the Pages App or in Google drive. This makes reviewing writing portfolios easy to access and look over. Students love looking back over all their writing for the year. They are often surprised with how much their writing has improved. During this end of the year writing activity, students get to choose their favorite writing pieces from the year and feature them in their Undiscovered Author Writing Reflection.
Playbill Style Writing
If you are not familiar with Playbill writing, Playbills are the programs you receive at a play or musical that list the actors and actresses performing. One part of a playbill is the “Who’s Who” section with headshots and short bios about each actor. I usually bring in samples of Playbills to show my students or show samples online (check out http://playbillder.com for lots of examples). Use these model texts to give students an idea of how their writing is going to look and sound.
Kids love writing about themselves and this is an especially fun writing assignment because they get to write in the third-person. Additionally, students take a headshot (using their iPads or a teacher camera) to accompany their writing. I do a little mini-photography lesson on taking a headshot, too, or else I end up with a bunch of crappy selfies.
Review Personal Writing Portfolios
First, students look through their writing portfolios to refresh their memories on all the writing they have done this year. Encourage students to choose a few of their favorite pieces they want to feature in this end of the year writing activity (at least 3 pieces). Have them write down the titles of these pieces (if they don’t have titles yet, have them give them titles). Students should also write down why they are their favorite writing pieces and what kind of writing it was (narrative, informational, opinion, poetry).
I created a downloadable Freebie for this Writing Reflection activity. CLICK HERE to download your free copy!
While students review their writing, encourage them to observe areas where they demonstrated writing strengths and/or improvements. Did they learn to add more descriptive details to their narrative writing? Did they do a good job citing evidence from research sources in their informative writing? Did they start most of their writing with a strong hook? Did they learn to add transitions to their writing? What are some of their writing strengths this year?
Use Model Playbill Text
First, show kids samples of Playbills. If you have any saved from a play, that is awesome, but if not, you can find samples online. Try this site for samples: http://playbillder.com - this site has lots of high school examples to look at to analyze. They aren’t as thorough as a professional Playbill, but it will give the students an idea of what they look like. Choose a few from the far-right column (Most Popular) to show to your class.
As a whole-group, analyze qualities of the Playbill biographies. Guide students to notice some of the most common aspects such as:
Written in the third person
Features acting accomplishments
Emphasizes achievements they are most proud of
Sometimes end with a thank you
Remind students that their Playbill writing will be focused on their writing achievements of the year, not acting. Thus, their writing will be slightly different. Looking at these model texts gives students an idea of the tone and overall structure of their writing.
Next, I like to show my students a couple samples to help inspire their writing. First I show them my sample and then a sample or two from a past student.
Check out my sample:
Sentence Starters and Structure Ideas
You can scaffold support as much as you need in this activity. I give my students sentence starters to fill out, however, I make these optional. Stronger, creative writers like to use these as a springboard for ideas, while struggling writers take comfort in the structured support. I included Graphic Organizers for sentence starters/structures in my End of the Year Writing Activity FREEBIE. Here are some of the options I like to give students:
Sentence 1 (Choose an option below)
One of ____________’s first 3rd grade author creations was the (essay, paragraph, pamphlet, travel brochure, etc.) ________________________. This was a/an (personal narrative, narrative, informational, opinion) piece about _______________________________________________.
______________________ made his/her third-grade writing debut in the (essay, paragraph, writing assignment, etc.) ___________________________, which is a/an (personal narrative, narrative, informational, opinion) piece about _________________________________________.
______________________ recently published the (essay, paper, paragraph), _______________________________ where he/she discussed ____________________________.
_____________________ recently authored the (essay, paper, paragraph), _________________________________, a/an (personal narrative, narrative, informational, opinion) piece about _____________________________________________________________.
One of _______________’s first published writing pieces was the (essay, paper, paragraph, etc. ), _______________________________, which is a/an (personal narrative, narrative, informational, opinion) piece about ______________________________________________________.
Additionally, one of __________________’s favorite writing pieces this year is _____________________________ because it __________________________________________.
___________ has been nominated for many writing awards including (most descriptive, best elaborator, greatest hook, best use of transitions, expert at citing evidence, etc.) ______________.
Furthermore, ____________’s favorite writing genre is (personal narrative, narrative, informative, opinion) because _________________________________________________________________.
Finally, in his/her free time, ___________ enjoys ______________ and _______________________ .
_____________ would like to thank his/her _________________ for ________________________.
The final touch to these end of the year writing reflections is to add black and white head shots of the students. This really ties it all together and totally makes it look like a bio out of a Playbill. If students have access to digital camera devices (like an iPad), have them take their own head shots. Show them sample headshots for them to get ideas of poses and how close-up it needs to be. They can easily add their headshots to Pages along with their typed writing.
If you are the one with the camera, take the students’ headshots yourself. Print them out and add them to the final drafts.
Once students put all the writing together along with the black and white headshots, they have a nice end of the year writing reflection. It allows students the opportunity to analyze some of their favorite writing pieces as well as reflect their writing strengths.
Put these up altogether for Open House or make your own printed Playbill of all the students’ work to have out for parents to look through. I also like attaching this writing reflection to the front of each student’s end of the year writing portfolios.
Celebrate their writing this year! They worked hard and they deserve to show it off!
Happy End of the Year Writing!
The Primary Professor
I’m Whitney Ebert, founder of ElementaryWritingCoach.com. As you may have guessed, teaching young authors to develop their craft and feel confident in their writing skills is kind of my thing.
I have 10+ years teaching experience in elementary education, and I've taught every grade level from kindergarten to sixth grade (except first). My teaching passions include interest-based learning, creative technology, project based learning, and building confident writers. Additionally, I have my M.S. in Instructional Media, so I frequently incorporate digital flare into projects and writing assignments.
I live in a sunny beach town with my husband, son, and baby girl. When I'm not teaching, blogging, or designing new lesson plans, you can find me at the beach with the family.
Find out more about The Primary Professor at: www.theprimaryprofessor.com