In January many third graders will be writing informational text. This is very similar to what third graders have been doing in past years. When they were in K-2 grades, they wrote 'How-to' books and 'All About' books. That informational writing gave them the background to do the type of text they will write this year.
Students will be writing about things they are interested in and very familiar with. The purpose of informational writing is to teach others. It is important that they know a lot about their chosen topic. A possible way to begin after the topic is chosen is to separate it into subtopics. Each of those subtopics can be listed as chapters in the table of contents.
As students prepare to write this genre, it is important to have mentor texts that look like what they will write. Books by Gail Gibbons or Seymour Simon are suggestions. These books should model the ways students will be sharing their information.
Each chapter or subtopic will have multiple pages. Students will need to decide what information they want to teach in each subtopic and how they will do that. One possible way to make those decisions is for them to try story boards in their notebooks using sketches and words. Ideas for those pages might be: "how-to" page; diagram with labeling page; compare and contrast page; or a "story" page. They would then choose paper that would be based on the structure that matches the information to be taught. Using what they have learned in previous grades about writing "All About" books, will help them know how to best present their informational writing.