Scaffold for Success

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a fantastic grade two class. The day before I was with them, their teacher read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then, I read The Invisible Boy giving them two jobs as I read: 1) pay close attention to the pictures in The Invisible Boy and 2) think about some similarities between the two books.

As we talked through the two stories afterwards, the students noticed that both stories involved a significant change in the main character and they easily grasped the concept of a transformation story.

After completing the transformation story graphic organizer about the Grinch, the students excitedly planned their own stories using the same graphic organizer. That was enough for day one!

Thankfully, I was welcomed back into their classroom the following day. To scaffold the writing of their stories, I used a three-page approach which directly correlates to the graphic organizer. On page one, I first encouraged the students to draw the opening scene of their stories clearly showing the situation and the emotion of the character at the beginning. I referred back to our mentor texts before they began writing and whenever necessary during their writing. Enough for day two!

The students completed the transforming event on page two, and the end of the story on page three, each on subsequent days, again referring back to the mentor texts as necessary.

Eventually, they’ll add a blank page to the front where they can draw the cover of their books and put their own names as author and illustrator: voila, their very only transformation stories.

When our instruction scaffolds the writing process in this way, all students find success. Perhaps most importantly, their confidence increases and they begin to believe in themselves as writers. Go slow to go far!

6 thoughts on Scaffold for Success

  1. Hi Karen,
    First off, I’d like to say how much I enjoy reading your blog every Sunday night. I love the suggestions you provide, and I have used a couple in my class this year and have already seen improvement in their writing ability.

    Funny how you mentioned this lesson, as you modelled this particular lesson in my grade 3 classroom two years ago. I will be starting this lesson tomorrow, and I really like how you included the part where students draw their opening scene at the start of the story. I will add that step, as I can see how it will benefit students who may struggle to visualize the start of their story.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughtful ideas in the future. I feel more confident in my ability to teach Language Arts, particularly teaching students how to write effectively. You have helped me foster articulate writers and I am so grateful.

    Many (and continued) thanks.


    1. I am so glad to hear this Amy! And yes, if they draw each part of the story before they write about it (and we encourage them to draw with a fair amount of detail), it tends to help when they write each portion of the story too. Let me know how it goes!

  2. We just finished our first stab at our very own Transformation stories! Thanks for your great lessons in this. I appreciate how you shared the mentor texts, we read 5! and now move on to a novel to highlight Transformation in the main character. Thank you Karen!

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