We survived Halloween! It is time to look onward to Thanksgiving. I organized my writing lessons for November into 2 great packets to share with you. Each packet has the same skills just different themes - Pilgrims and Native Americans.
They are explicit, step-by-step lessons to guide your students’ informational writing. Each part of the paper has its own mini-lesson and practice sheet.
I introduce each writing lesson by discussing the structure and purpose of the writing with the students.
This mini lesson discusses the purpose and audience of the writing. The audience will be the teacher and peers. The purpose is to provide them with facts and information about Native Americans.
Very briefly share the structure of the writing. This tends to be an abstract concept to writers who have not had the opportunity to create structured texts. This section becomes more meaningful with each writing experience and can be expanded upon as writers are ready.
There are other mini-lessons throughout the unit for organizing facts and writing facts in your own words. Other mini-lessons for writing introductions, conclusions, and topic sentences are also included. These can be used as needed with small groups or whole group.
There are fact sheets included if you do not want your students to do their own research. I usually have my third graders do their own research and give the prepared sheet to the younger students.
Students transfer the facts to an organizer. Using highlighters help this struggling writer organize the facts. Since the packets can be individualized, the students number the pages.
Around mid-year, the second graders start to do some of their own research. Completed fact sheets for struggling writers are still provided, but the ones who are ready, spend time researching the topic. The third graders serve as mentors to the younger students in this phase. You can also partner students who work well together.
This is an unedited page from a second grader. His focus skill was putting facts into his own words. Prior to this he just wanted to copy facts.
This third grader finished topic 2 and had their paper peer edited.
After students complete their writing, they share it with the class. Sharing and listening to each other’s writings is an important part of this process. Through this process students hear examples of writing that is better than their writing. They are able to hear ways to improve their writing. Students also learn how to help each other become better writers. They make specific suggestions for improvement. Students must be active listeners.
Students do not just listen to each other’s writings, they must use the rubric to grade each writing. At the beginning, we start with just one section of the rubric. For example, I teach all about the ideas section. I explain that the writer must address all areas of the prompt. The information has to be correct and supported with facts and details. I show and read examples of a 4,3,2, and 1 paper for ideas. Then, a student reads their paper. We talk about the ideas and make suggestions and comments. Each student then holds up the number of fingers to indicate the grade for the paper. I then ask a student or 2 to justify the number they gave as the score.
Of course, I have final say on the grade, but with practice the students become very accurate in their ratings.
We continue until everyone has shared. This may take a couple days. Students can rewrite their papers to improve their grade. I average the two scores together.
I hope this explicit format helps your students become amazing writers. My students have thrived knowing the expectations and having a consistent format.