Developing and Capturing Characters and Experiences with Sensory Language

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SWBAT write the main narrative for their memoir by using descriptive sensory language in order to develop and capture the experiences and characters in their narrative.

Big Idea

Writing so good you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch it.

Lesson Opener

10 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy, and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect: I will say, “For the past three days we have added relevance (meaning) to our narratives by adding dialogue, inner thinking and action. Today we are going to work with the same narrative from yesterday and add sensory language.” 

Teach: I will say, “I am going to practice the skill of using relevant (meaningful) descriptive details. I am going to use the strategy adding description by using my 5 senses in my writing. The process I will use is as follows:

1)Read over my writing from yesterday

2)Ask myself, “What did I see, hear, smell, touch, or taste in this moment?

3) Jot down ideas in my brainstorming chart

4) Add these details to my writing in order to develop and capture my experience.”

We will re-read the first paragraph of chapter 1 from “ Black Boy” by Richard Wright. I will have students fill out a chart of how Wright used sensory details (this is an example).

I will then show the students how I take my writing from yesterday and add details. I will use the brainstorming chart first, then add the details into my writing.

I will add details to my piece in the following ways: use sticky notes, use “spider legs” or strips of paper that can be taped in, write in the column or in between the lines if I skipped lines from the previous days’ lesson.

It is also important that I tell students they can add how something could have looked, smelled, felt, heard or tasted like. 

Active Engagement

10 minutes

Active Engagement  Student will then take people, places or objects from their own stories and start adding the five senses on their chart. Before they start adding into their writing, they should have at least 5 ideas (either five separate senses for at least 3 details or five separate senses for five separate details (or a combination). 

Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember, successful writers practice the skill of using relevant (meaningful) descriptive details. They use the strategy of adding description in their writing. They use the process as follows: 1) Read over their writing 2) Ask themselves, “Using my five senses, how could I add more detail (sensory language)? 3) Add these details to my writing in order to add meaning.” 

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Independent Practice: They should write for at least 20 minutes if not more. They can start on another narrative, but should be adding dialogue, inner thinking, action (from the previous days’ lesson) and description. As they are working independently and quietly, (I like to play classical or smooth jazz for“writing”music) I will confer with them about their writing using this chart.

*Partner Work:Students will be directed to turn and share one of the moments they have crafted when I see that all students have at least a half of a page or more of writing to share. I will say, “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A you will share the narrative you wrote or part of the narrative. Partner B, I want you to listen if Partner A was using their five senses. As you are listening, I want to see your fingers raised (show them this and start with the thumb to avoid the wrong finger being put up first!) for every time you hear sensory language. Then you will switch. Give your partner feedback as to where they could add more sensory language. I should hear, "Maybe you could add...or I liked how you used...I will add something similar to my writing."

Allow time for students to revise their writing after partner talk. 



*Since I only have 45 minutes every day it is hard sometime to fit partner talk in because I want to give students ample time to write. Some days when a lesson is really packed like this one, I do not have time for partner talk. When this occurs, I then take the partner talk part of this lesson and weave it into my direct instruction for the next day. This helps students remember what they did the day before and also gives them time to discuss their writing with their peers.

Another strategy I use is to use partner talk and a whole class share out as the closing. I call on three levels of learners (one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard) and have them share what their partners shared.

I have to always remember to use partner talk because it helps many different levels of learners. For example some students (like people in general) are auditory learners, therefore the oral processing helps them). I do my best to reach the three main types of learners: auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners within my lessons. 



5 minutes

I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question.

Closing: Write down a sentence that shows your best sensory detail(s) from your writing.