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Storyworks Review Writing Residency (South Toe Elementary)

Storyworks Front Covers

3rd and 4th Grade South Toe Elementary Students both composed a collaborative review in October, 2013. We began by developing a list of criteria by studying reviews written by students and published in Storyworks magazine:

Example of a Storyworks Review

We’d read several picture books and each class chose one that fitted them perfectly. The 4th grade, a heart-strong class, decided on Meg Kearney’s Trouper. The 3rd grade, a humor-loving bunch, picked Aaron Shepard’s Carnivores. Then we chose the criteria that best fitted the books we were reviewing and organized the important points with the help of the Review Writing Skeleton. We used that Story Skeleton to help us construct the first draft of our written review.

Opinion Writing Skeleton

At first we thought we’d done a marvelous job. But then we did some serious reworking in Draft 2 using the three secrets for editing success:

  1. Lots of room to make changes
  2. A red pen (every time you see red it means the draft is getting better)
  3. The human voice (when you read aloud, mistakes are revealed)

Because we wrote a collaborative review, it belonged to no one and everyone. A group-composed manuscript helps the whole class dig into to improve our collective work. See how many marks there are:


Draft 2 of Trouper

You can see at a glance we improved it markedly—and surprising to all of us, the next draft was almost as messy. I left both grades with Draft 3s that they’re hoping to take at least to Draft 4 before they submit them to Storyworks, bringing us full circle.