First graders must learn how to write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure (W.1.2). The corresponding CCR Anchor standard states that they need to be able to effectively select and organize content. The use of graphic organizers to write informational paragraphs meets the requirements of both standards. My goal is to lead them to independent mastery through gradual release of scaffolding. This gradual release will lead to true independence.
The five lessons in this cycle about informational paragraph writing mirror the gradual release process: it begins with explicit teaching, modeling (as in this lesson), followed by guided practice, targeted instruction, and independent work.
In this section of the lesson, I told them that I wanted to review how to use the graphic organizer they had created the previous day to write an expository paragraph. I explained that they would write by themselves the next day.
I worked under the document camera, so that they could see each step of the writing. Modeling can be done whole class or with a small group, and I choose the grouping depending on my goal for the lesson.
As I model, I state the steps and ask students for suggestions, for example:
When I start teaching a genre, I do it whole class. When part of the class has mastered the basic characteristics of the text type we are studying, I do some lessons with smaller groups, targeting their needs. Some of those lessons will be extension lessons for advanced writers; some will be remedial. At the time I taught this particular lesson, most of my class had a basic understanding of the text type and I was using this time to review and to talk again about closing sentences, which was a widespread weakness.
When I finished writing the paragraph, I reminded them that the next day they would use the same process to write their own paragraphs independently.