This month many fifth graders are working on Informational Writing and putting these pieces into picture books. Last month I had the opportunity to work with a fifth grade class as they did these books. The outcome was amazing. The books all looked different...no cookie-cutter books here. There were huge, BIG books. There were books with pages that had been torn around the edges to give it an "old" look. There were typed books and handwritten books. This teacher had taken subjects from their social studies to have the children choose what they would do research on and write their book. They did content writing. Each student knew who their audience would be...4th graders coming into 5th grade next year or younger students who didn't know much about the subject. Knowing that helped the writer know what research to do.
How did they get to that point? What did they do to come up with such interesting, unique books?
Writing these books is very similar to doing the Feature Articles that we have done in the past. The format will be different for publishing and the text features might be more interesting and diverse, but still the same thinking is behind it. So, because of that, I will refer you to the All Write website. On the left side of that page you will find lessons for "Feature Article" Writing. This will give you some lessons to help out with this genre.
Hopefully, you have been immersing the students in this type of writing by reading lots of nonfiction picture books. You will do reading as readers and then reading as writers to see what things those authors do to teach the reader. The children should come up with an author or book that they can use as a mentor text. This will help them to have a form to follow as they begin their writing.
Allowing the students to have a vision for what their book will look like, is something that will give them choice and freedom. This will help them to have ownership in this writing. Another thing that is so important is, as I stated before, having an idea of who the audience is, will help that, too. Thinking ahead and planning a celebration at the end of this unit lets the students know that their book is not going to simply go into a folder or get graded and sent home. Sharing their books is a great way to help students to love writing and therefore become better writers!
Have fun with this unit as you do research and learn along the way!