Structuring and Brainstorming Our Own Writing

Print Lesson


SWBAT take the most important information from the story and categorize it on a Tree Map to structure their own writing.

Big Idea

In this activity students will learn how to synthesize information from a text and put only the most important information on their Tree Maps.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

Today's lesson will show students the correct process for learning how to research correctly.  By the end of the year, I want my students to be able to achieve Writing Standard 1.7 -Participate in shared research and writing projects. In the independent practice section of today's lesson, the students will have to take either the main idea and details from their graphic organizer from yesterday and only write fragments of that research on their tree maps.  This will help your students internalize the information they've learned (and prevent your students copying word for word from the actual text!). By the end of the year my students should  be able to take several books on a particular animal, do some basic research, and then write a piece of expository text using main ideas and details in an organized fashion.  When they research, they shouldn't be copying right out of the text; students who do so tend not to have good underlying comprehension of what they are reading or the language skills they need to craft their own way of saying the information. They need to be able to synthesize the information and be able to determine what is important in order to convey their ideas (instead of simply copying what the author had to say).

I only have 30 minutes to teach writing each day.  This lesson actually took my students two sessions to finish.  Based on your schedule, you will have to decide for yourself how you structure the lesson to meet your needs.   For today's lesson, you will need your Smartboard lesson again, the students will need their packets, and before teaching the lesson you will need to make copies of the tree maps and circle maps for each of your students.

Introducing the Objective and Guided Practice

10 minutes

I wanted to make sure my students understood the purpose of today's learning.  I said, "Today we are going to read the main idea and details from our student packet, determine what is the most important information and write it on our Tree Maps just like we did with our honey bee stories.  The reason why we are doing this is so you can learn more about a topic and how to do research just like a college student. Remember: you will have to take your research and write your informational paragraph in your own words."

I pulled up my Smartboard lesson and showed the students that their main idea from the student packet would be the category headings on their Tree Maps and then they would write their details on the lines below in the same column.   I said, "Remember that since we have small lines on our Tree Map that you will have to figure out what the most important words are and only write those on your Tree Map.  When you are done, you should only have sentence fragments.

I only modeled the first section of the story because I wanted students to do their own thinking for the next 3 parts of the story.  By modeling this first section, they would have a better idea of how to do their independent practice.  The students also did this activity (with 3 main ideas and details) with their honey bee writing so they had some experience doing this.  It was time to get to work.  I couldn't actually video myself as I was teaching, so I made a screencast video of how I modeled this first section to give you a better idea of how I did this and how you might approach it in your classroom.

Independent Practice

40 minutes

       I circulated around the room, assisting students who needed it.  They had just watched me model and guide them through the first section and they had experience doing this with our honey bee writing so they understood what they needed to do.  This activity was still rigorous because it was a different text and they needed to determine what was important with this text.  I asked students, "What do you think is important in what you just read?  Which part of that do you think you need to tell your audience?  I found if I let my students do the work they could really synthesize what was important from the text.  You can see how they did in the video here in the resource section.

Finding Different to Vary Our Sentences

10 minutes

I wanted my students to be able to see how an author varies the beginning of their sentences.  I said, " Just like in our honey bee writing we are going to see how the author starts their sentences in different ways.  Since you did such a good job last time I am going to be quiet and let you get to work."

I let the students work with the other students at their table.  They looked at the text in their student packets and found the different ways the author started their sentences.  They worked together to record their answers on their Circle Maps. It took them about 5-10 minutes to complete the task.  To give you a better idea of what my students did, you can view the video in the resource section.


2 minutes

I just wanted to sum up our learning for the day.  " Today we took the important parts of our story and used them to plan our own stories.  We also learned how start our sentences in different ways.  Tomorrow you will be able to take your sentence fragments and make sentences of your own.  Your story will be your own instead of something copied out of a book."