In my class we've been writing "How to" books to teach someone else how to do something. The students write/draw a plan, then check their plan with a partner, then use the plan to write their book, then meet with a friend to read/revise/edit the book, then they get to type the book on the computer and illustrate the printout for a published copy! We make a copy -- one to take home and one to keep at school.
Well, after we'd been working on the first three-four steps, our class started looking at and talking about writing a good lead to "catch" their reader so they'll want to read more.
Every year, I follow this process with the students and always find it so amazing. First of all, for many kids, the simple act of there being a very clear process to follow takes away some of the stress or writer's block that they may sometimes feel. Secondly, there is a very clear product -- a book that they published! -- which is satisfying and motivating (and pretty exciting!).
It also lends itself well to starting to talk about our other writing work and how some of the same procedures can be used to make other writing (ie, not "How to" stories) even better and more interesting.
Well, today Ammar finished illustrating his book, How to Ride a Bike, and decided to look in his writing folder to see what other unfinished pieces were in there. Not too long later, he came to me with wide eyes,
"Miz F," he told me, in sort of breathless amazement, "did you know that you could also write a good lead in other pieces to get a reader to want to read that one, too?"
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, those are my students. Figuring this writer thing out all on their own. Something tells me I'm going to learn a lot from them this year.