This lesson is recommended by the Teacher Columbia staff for third grade classses because moving into the 3rd grade doesn't magically make students ready for thinner lines (or "wide rule"). This is especially true for ELLs for are new or students with language disorders.
'I was planning on doing these worksheets, but you all have had such interesting stories already that I'd like to read all about them. So today, instead of these worksheets we're going to write stories about ourselves.'
'We all need just right paper, but just right paper isn't the same for everyone, just like with our books. Some people need to sketch their idea first. Some don't. Some people can write small clearly and other people need to write largely letters to write clearly.' Show different kinds of paper: thin and thick lines, with and without pictures.
'Watch while I try to find my just right paper. Hum, do I need to quickly sketch my idea? No, I don't really like to draw all that much; I'm not much of an artist. So I don't think I need a space to quickly sketch a picture of my drawing. Now, how much room do I need to write clearly so someone else can read my writing. I'll try both. I have to admit that I have to work on writing neatly; I don't have the best handwriting. Well, what should I write about? Hum... I know, I'm going to write about getting the classroom ready for us! Tomorrow is the first day of school and I still have so much more to do.' I write just a little and then copy it onto another paper with different line width. 'Which one is easier to read? Hum.. raise your hand if you think this one is easier to read. Raise your hand if you think I'm ready for the thinner line.' Come to a conclusion about which paper you will use.
'What did you see me do, in order?' Guide the conversation, including the questions.
'Now as I dismiss you from the carpet, go to the paper station [location] for paper with room to sketch a picture. Go to the [location] paper station for paper with wide lines or the [location] station for paper with narrow, thin lines. Choose your own paper to write about something you remember well.'
'So, today and every day when you choose your paper remember that we all have different just right kinds of paper and choose what's just right for you.'
On demand writing:
Prompt -- "Write about something you remember well."
Checklist to observe use of picture, wide or narrow paper
I repeated the prompt a second day to let some continue or get two writing samples. The selection of writer's notebooks can be made after verifying what kind of paper students need. Notebooks can be made or store bought. I have also taught kids to write on two lines of the wide rule notebooks instead of buying different notebooks. If money isn't an issue, Lakeshore has paper with wider lines and a picture on one side of the paper --giving a page and a half for writing and a space to draw, which is perfect for many 1st, 2nd and some 3rd graders.