Friday, January 11, 2013

Informational Writing in Third Grade

The following is a unit of study for third graders. This is a transition from the All About type of writing to the feature article or informational writing.
Informational Writing
All About Books leading to a Featured Article
(3rd Grade – approx. a 4 week study)

 Materials and Resources:
Nonfiction Writing: Procedures and Reports by Calkins and Pessah
Nonfiction Craft Lessons: Teaching Information Writing K-8 by Portalupi and Fletcher


The week prior to this study immerse students to the nonfiction genre through Interactive Read Alouds, workstations activities, small group work, and Independent–level reading.  Continue this immersion throughout the entire genre study.

 Suggested Text:
Gail Gibbons Books
True Books
Nonfiction big books
Weekly Reader, Time for Kids, Highlights, National Geographic

 Days 1 and 2:
Develop a word web from the noticings from the prior week’s investigation of nonfiction text.  Select two or three texts that have clear attributes of an All About Book (If possible, find a big book or take pages that exemplify particular components of an All About Book).  From the students noticings and the mentor texts develop a list of the key components ~ table of contents, how-to-page, headings, pictures with captions, different-kinds-of, glossary, diagrams, fun facts, zoom in, index, etc. ~ All About Books often have. Have students generate lists, in their notebooks, of topics that they could develop into an All About Book.

 Day 3:
Model selecting a topic that could be “meaty” enough to develop into an All About Book.  Have students look at the lists they created yesterday, then “turn and talk” with an elbow buddy which topic they might write about.  Have each person share their topic in the circle.   Those who are still undecided say “Pass” and remain with the teacher for help when other students are dismissed to begin the book’s cover, “All About.”

 Day 4 - 8:
Scaffold or support the students in their efforts by modeling a different page or pages each day.  Show any book that has a page that shows various examples of the subject.  Gail Gibbons’ book, Apples, has an excellent example. 

Show overhead of several pieces of children’s work from previous years or other classrooms.  (If you don’t have any, save pieces your kids are doing this year for the next time you teach this.  If you don’t have student samples, use additional published books to give more examples.)  Make a few kids famous by sharing examples they have transferred into their own pieces from the day’s mini –lesson

Day 9:
Do the first page of the book, the introductory page.  Talk about the need to provide the reader with background information.  Remind them what it takes to have a good beginning and a grabber lead.  How do you get the audiences attention? Be sure students tell what their book is going to be about in this introductory page.

Share some good introduction pages and do your own for your book.  They do that page.

Day 10:
They can add any other pages they want.  They may want to have a glossary or table of contents or an author’s page.  They may want to add more information pages. 

When they are finished writing, pages should be assembled and numbered before making a table of contents page.  Model that for students.  This is a time that the students can do things they have seen other authors do.

 Day 11 - 12:
Revise and edit books.  Offer mini-lessons based on observed student needs.  Put the book together and work on the assessment page.  They could put in a dedication page before you staple or bind it. 

 Day 13:
Discuss with students how they are now going to move away from their all about pieces and select a topic for a featured article.  Explain that a featured article is the same genre however the author focuses on one aspect of the topic and goes deeper into the understanding of that topic through a particular lens or focus.  Share a few simple featured articles from student work or student magazines and identify the “angles” or focus of each article.

Revisit the list you developed at the beginning of the nonfiction study and have the students do the same from their notebooks.  Possibly adding to their lists.  Have students circle three things that they would be interested in developing into a featured article.  Sharing on this day might be a “whip” share with students telling their possible topics.  Have students begin narrow in one and determine possible focuses of their piece inside their notebooks.

 Day 14:
Put each topic on the top of a page and then write as much as they can about that topic. (Try to fill the pages.) Model doing one of these with a topic you could do.  What do they want the audience to know or learn?  Show them some articles and discuss the focus of those pieces.  Pick a possible topic with options for its focus.  Make an umbrella and put the topic in the umbrella and the topic off to the top side. Think of possible subsections that would go with this focus.  Have them make raindrops with possible subsections in them. Make as many as they can on each topic. Look at articles for ideas about sections. 

 Day 15 - 16:
Begin drafting - write about what you already know. Talk about using facts, quotes and voice in the piece.  Use sample text to show this. Putting voice in the writing can be done through word choice, asides or by writing in second person.  Also, a lesson can be done in transitions. Show how to use subheadings, bullets, and topic sentences. Students will work in their drafts.  Share relevant pieces.

 Day 17 & 18:
Work on lead page and conclusion page the same way.  Make a sheet for each one.  Show sample text and discuss how the lead should grab the attention of the reader. It should also tell what the article is going to be about.

 Do the same with the conclusion. Show them some endings and model one for them.  Write an ending that brings closure to the article.  The ending should finalize what they have been saying in the article.

 Day 19:
Go back to each page and revise. Make sure it sounds right. Could you do anything to make it sound better?  Did you leave out any words? Does it make sense? Is it interesting? Does it have voice? Did you use transition words? Develop a title.  Students may even work with their writing partner to support the revision process.

 Day 20:
Go to each page and work on editing. Is there a capital at the beginning of each sentence and punctuation at the end?  Are there any run-on sentences? Look for misspelled words.

 Select a day to celebrate their work – invite parents, principal, other staff members:

Prior to the celebration have students select from their featured article or their All About Book to share during the celebration. 

You can have the students do a celebration by reading other papers in their class.  Put the papers on their desks. Beside each paper put a “review sheet”.  Their name should be on the top. Show them how the review sheet works.  Talk about appropriate things to write.  Discuss with students that they will have to read fast in order to have an adequate amount of time to construct and write their review.  They will then move to the chair beside them and review that article or All About Book. They will read it and write a review.  After a pre-set amount of time, they will then move to the next desk. The review can be added to the article when finished.

Make sure it is clear that writing featured articles or All About Books is something that they can continue to do in workshop. They may have other topics they would like to explore and write about. They now have the tools to do that.

*** Each day remember to take time to SHARE!


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