Monday, March 12, 2012

Tasty Beginning/Middle/End

I LOVE teaching Writing.  Love it!  It is so exciting to see a young writer develop into a budding author with great potential and promise. That's why when I figure out an effective lesson, I bring it back every year.

I know that you, like me, have found that giving students a good parallel to which they can compare a skill can be highly effective.  This is how the hamburger story evolved in my classroom.  I know the hamburger has been used as a graphic organizer for many different things in the classroom like main idea and various other areas, but here's how I explain it to my kids:

When you eat a burger, what is the most important part to the burger.  The best part?  The middle, right?  A nice, big, juicy burger patty in the middle.  If you don't eat meat, think about that yummy veggie burger patty in the middle.  That's what makes it so tasty.  Otherwise it's just bread, right?  Well, a good burger is like a good story. 

The first part of your burger is the top bun.  This is like the beginning of your story.  This is where you are introduced to your characters and setting.  This is where the story starts.  A good burger is kind of incomplete without a good beginning . . . without the top bun. 

Then you come to the middle.  This is the best part.  It's exciting . . . it's what the burger is all about.  What you want is a juicy middle.  For me, the best burgers have lots of other things packed into the middle too.  I like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, cheese, ketchup, and mustard.  When you go to Chili's you can build your own burger and add things like onions, barbecue sauce, or my favorite - avocado!  Whatever you want!  Now that is what makes it so special - the details.  No one wants to go to a restaurant and get a skinny dried out burger!  You want it to be tasty and fresh!  So when you write your story, your middle is the part with all the excitement!  This is where most of your events happen.  This is where you find out the problem and you try to solve the problem, but you don't always solve the problem right away.  If you did then your story would end very quickly.  (This is where I insert my Spongebob or Batman or whatever cartoon plot comparison lesson which I'll share in a later post.)  If you want to make your story more interesting, you'll probably try many times to solve the problem but your attempts may not work.

The end of the story is like when you hit the bottom bun of your burger.  It holds everything together and keeps stuff from falling out.  This is where you solve the problem in your story.  Without the end (bottom bun) your story (or burger) feels incomplete.

Now, inevitably as you're listing out all the different things you love to put in your burger, somone's going to yell out things they like in their burger.  Or someone will yell out, "Eeeeewww!  I don't like _____!"  That's when you say, "That's ok!  You don't have to like that!  It's my burger . . . my story!  That's what makes it special and unique.  Someone may not like my story, but to another person it will be the best story ever!  You put what you like and that is what is going to make someone else really like it.  It's ok to like or to not like a story.  Everyone has different taste.  Write what you know."

Well, this year I've got an amazing gift in my classroom.  I've got my first student teacher.  She's amazing, and I am so blessed to have her.  It just so happened that after I did my introductory Burger Beginning/Middle/End lesson, it was her turn to start taking over the classroom.  This year we worked together to take the burger story to the next level. 

We started with the burger graphic organizer I usually use.  (It's actually one I found online, but I edit it to suit my purposes.  Since I can't post that one, I took some time to create my own.)  Click on the previews below to get the color or black & white versions of the Beginning/Middle/End Hamburger graphic organizer.  This is where the students start to map out their stories.
Color B/M/E Graphic Organizer
B&W B/M/E Graphic Organizer
My fabulous student teacher took ever, walking the kids through a story of her own, modelling how to use the organizer.

When students were finished we had them rewrite their stories in their Writing Notebooks, drawing a line after each section to keep them separated.  As they rewrote this was their chance to revise.  They were told to reread each section as they copied it into their notebooks to see if there was anything they wanted to change or add.  This is also when they checked to see if the story made sense. 

 We followed the revision with our editing checklists (return sweep, finger spacing, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling).  Once this was finished it was time to . . . .


We made lined circles for students to publish each section of their story.  The more details students added to their story, the more circles they would need which means the fatter the burgers would become!
Click to download burger circles.
I cut a bunch of construction paper slightly larger than the circles.  

When the burger circles were completed, students would then glue their circles to a piece of construction paper and cut the paper as they liked to create the pieces of the burger.  I used yellow (didn't have manilla), brown, orange, green, red, and yellow construction paper.  Here's my student teachers sample she used to show the students how their burger stories would look at the end.
She added sesame seeds to the top bun.

Then she glued the beginning circle underneath so you could read it when flipped open.  She also cut the lettuce paper with a wavy edge and added squiggles to make it look more like lettuce.

Staple the top edge to keep the pages together and VIOLA!
Beginning/Middle/End Hamburger story complete!

Student samples soon to come . . . they're almost done!


  1. I absolutely love this idea and will definitely utilize it in my writing class. I've seen similar ideas but the burger graphic organizer was never one I liked as much as I like this one. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  2. Thanks Lori! I'm glad you like it. Every year I've done it my kids really seem to catch on. I also make a giant hamburger which I put on my wall as a reminder. I label the parts and add descriptions to help remind them what to include in each section. I'll snap a picture of that and post it too. Once my kids finish their burgers, I'll post some too so you can see why I'm so proud of them! =)


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