December 07, 2017

Let's talk about procedural writing

We started procedural writing today. The boys and girls are writing all about what Mrs. Claus does on Christmas Eve while Santa is out delivering all the presents. The purpose of this activity is multi-layered. I'm teaching my students to: 
  • think like a character
  • write an interesting paragraph with sparkly, memorable details that evoke a response from the reader 
  • write steps in sequence 
  • implement feedback from their writing pieces thus far  
We've talked a lot about procedural writing in my class. Actually, you might say we've done so since the first day of school.  Our Morning Message letter is an example of procedural writing. I always first tell my purpose for writing and then explain what we'll be doing throughout the day. Here's one of those letters from around Thanksgiving last year. Each day in my class begins with one of these.  

Over the next few days, students will learn the key features of procedural writing pictured below.  

I'll be thrilled if everyone finished their paragraph, but it's this ideas page that I'm most interested in. Since such a heavy focus has been placed on creating an interesting and memorable paragraph, I want to see that my students are capable of generating these ideas on their own. We're using the two commercials and my paragraph pictured below as our mentor "texts", so to speak. 

On Thursday, I'll conference with each student, look at their ideas and give a bit of feedback to help guide them along. I'm really looking to see that they can come up with their own ideas (sometimes kids tend to follow the teacher's example) and ask themselves the following questions:  
  • Have I included the essential details so that the reader can make a picture in their mind?
  • Have I included details that will be memorable to the reader like the ones in the commercials we watched?
  • Have I included details that will evoke a response from the reader (likely it will be laughter, but you never know!) 

After looking at and discussing key features from a few samples I wrote, along with television commercials that include many interesting details, I set my little authors loose to create their own literary works of art.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how these all turn out; it's a lot harder than it looks and requires students to think very critically about their own work.


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