Next month many second grade classrooms will be working on informational writing in their workshops. This might sound overwhelming to the teachers who will be guiding this work. However, it is really similar to what second graders have done in the past. This year, though, they might be using a little more rigor in this genre. It is important to know first of all, if the students have done this type of work in kindergarten and first grade. Many classrooms have done that. It is also important to have the students read independently and as a whole class, informational text. This might be books by Gail Gibbons or Time For Kids magazines.
If students are familiar with All About books from doing that type of writing in kindergarten and first grade, then this unit will simply be guiding them through it again with more independent work. The children will make lists of things they are experts in and know a lot about. They will pick two or three topics to "try out" to see if that is something they feel they could teach others. This would be done in a Quick Write in their writer's notebooks. When they have one they are comfortable writing, it is time to begin.
Starting out with a table of contents will help them to have a structure for their book. This will be the book they work on all month...going from drafting to revising to editing and finally publishing. As the whole class makes a "class book" in the focus lesson time, this will give the students a model to work from. The pages that they have used in the past: introduction page, diagram page, how-to page, all about page, etc. will give them a way to teach their topic.
One of the supports teachers have for this unit can be found on the All Write!!! website. If the students are not familiar with this type of writing, this unit of study shows a way to support the students in this first attempt at writing informational books. As this month's writing progresses, keep in mind that it is setting up the future for more independent nonfiction writing. This genre will be revisited again in March and May. Giving the students a lot of encouragement and support this month will be the best way to prepare for success in future writing.