Bat Writer's Workshop

    The following suggestions can be incorporated into the bat unit for lessons, mini-lessons and writing projects.  Teaching writing requires time and it is a process that will evolve over time.  In order to prevent a feeling of "going batty" while teaching this unit component, the following are a few suggestions that I have found successful with first grade students. 

      The unit opens with the book, Stellaluna.  The story is available in English and Spanish and is an appropriate read aloud.  During the unit, we read and reread the story several times.  With each reading different skills, elements, or ideas are developed.  To order the book or read a synopsis, click the mouse arrow onto the book cover.  This will take you to


    *Story Elements -

            Develop story elements of character, setting, problem, sequence, and the end.  Compare and contrast characters (birds - bats).  Write student ideas on chart paper.  The words and phrases can be used later for their writing and reading.

     * Venn Diagram

             Place white butcher paper along a wall or chalkboard.  Attach two hula hoops crossing in the center to make the venn diagram.  I use hula hoops that are two different colors to make the differences more visual.

              After reading the story, have students list the characteristics of "birds" on one side of the hula hoop circle; the characteristics of "bats" on the other side.  In the center, this will be for characteristics that are the "same" for each.  LABEL the three areas of the circles. 

               Leave the chart diagram on the wall for the unit.  This can be added to as the students gain more information from other reading resources on bats.

     * Shared Writing - Mini Lessons - Processes

       Using the information from the story, Stellaluna, and the words we listed in the venn diagram, students gather at our group area to work on writing.  During this time, mini-lessons are presented in mechanics and phonics.  For example, capitals, periods, parts of sentences, sounds/rules, and ideas.  The students use the list of ideas to make sentences about bats and/or Stellaluna.  We also notice the differences between a list and written language. 

           Using chart tablet and markers (I chose colors to highlight certain concepts of the lesson), the students look at the list and then dictate a sentence.  During the process of writing what they dictate, I model content, mechanics as well as SELF-TALK.  They need to see the teacher write, write, write and model, model, model many times before this concept of writing as a talking language with a pencil hits home.  As I write, I sound out letters, phonograms, and review, "what do I need to do at the end?" orally to the group.  The students also dictate the letters, vowels, or mechanics as I question about what the sentence needs.  On other days, the students "share the pen" with me.  I will begin a sentence and ask, "who will be able to help me finish this word?"  They love to be the teacher and other students support the process.

            If you are using 6-Traits writing process, this works well with the shared writing and mini lessons.  The process builds and makes the application to a finished product for a portfolio much easier.  You cannot just say to the students, "write a ... about..."  There is nothing more that will shatter their creativity.  It is like saying, "teacher, today you must fly this jet plane to Mexico" when you have never had a flying lesson.

              *Bat Report

          Divide the report into specific areas.  Use an overhead or chart paper to model writing about a particular aspect of bats; show what is wrong, right, and self-talk.  I used the following components for my class and their bat writing:

                        * What do bats look like?

                        *  What can bats do?

                         * What do bats eat?

                         * What are bat babies like?

                         * Where do bats live?

                          * Wow do bats help us?

Beginning with questions for a report demonstrates a study skill students will need in life.  This also gives them a clearer road map in writing.

           The questions are written on bat forms drawn on butcher paper.  Students will write during the two week unit.  I use the bat pattern for the cover and back of the book.  Then, I trace the pattern on lined paper.  Students cut the pattern and papers and put them together to make a bat report.

               Example of Classroom Bat Reports

     This is Beatriz's first writing product.  Spanish is her dominant language.                      

               Page One                                                                       Page Two



           Page Three                                                                       Page Four




                Page 5                                                                                      Page 6



 During the writing process, students use words from the "word wall" as well as the books, charts, and writing lists that we leave on the wall.


        *  Bat Poems

               The KISS principle is in force when writing poetry with young children.  The lines DO NOT have to rhyme.  Use a simple pattern such as the following pattern, keeping the beginning and ending lines the same except for the information or words added at the end.

                             * Bats are _______________ (gentle, nocturnal, etc)

                               Bats fly _______________ (at night, far, with wings)

                              Bats do not have ___________ (feathers, cold blood)

                              * Bats are _________________ (mammals, our friends, etc)

           Other poems can be written as free thought and illustrated.  I find combining art with the writing enhances the final product.  Children start with a picture story. They can use this "concrete" drawing to help in writing their ideas.

            Have pictures of bats at the center.  Students select a picture and write a poem, sentences, words, that describe the bat.  

             Persuasive - Why should we take care of bats?  Children make posters, signs, and write sentences about the positive things about bats.

             Voice - I am a bat.. I got lost one time and landed in a _________.  


               More ideas will be added to this section and are available in other units on the web site.  If you would like to review some excellent resources for teachers about writing, I recommend the following books:

                       *Interactive Writing, Gay Su Pinnell & Irene Fountas

                       *And With a Light Touch Carol Avery


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