When I teach my students to focus on the small details, they turn their writing from a "good" piece to an "amazing" piece of writing. Today we are focusing on writing strong introductions and finding different ways to vary the beginnings of our sentences throughout our stories. This makes our writing more interesting for the reader and causes the reader to say, "Wow. This is amazing writing!"
Today I am going to teach students to select ways to convey their ideas while making their text interesting for their audience to read. Isn't that what we all want when we read nonfiction? Not only are we addressing W1.2 today, but it's full steam ahead to setting a foundation to address its anchor standard and college and career readiness.
For today's lesson you'll need either the Smartboard Amazing Introductory Sentences.notebook or Activboard Amazing Introductory Sentences.flipchart lesson for amazing introductory sentences. Your students may have seen this before if you've gone through the crab unit I've written, but it will be a good review in order for students to cement these skills. The students will need their reference cards, Ways to Make Introductory Sentences.pdf, and an introductory planning paper, Introductory Sentence Planner.docx. Students also have 2 options for what flow map they'd like to use. We've been discussing how the main idea of a paragraph can be found in the beginning or at the end of a paragraph (I do realize the main idea can be found elsewhere in a paragraph but this is what we've covered thus far in first grade). The two flow maps show the main idea and details in different configurations within the paragraph. This allows students to have some choice in how they'd like to structure their paragraphs. So, you'll need to copy option 1 flow map Flow Map Writing Paper Elephants Option 1.pdf and option 2 flow map Flow Map Writing Paper Elephants Option 2.pdf.
The students have seen this Smartboard lesson before in our Crab and Shark units. I took the opportunity review the different ways of creating a strong introductory sentence with my students. During this guided practice time, I wanted to remind students that we had a variety of choices on how to make an introduction.
We've been practicing that we should choose 3 ways from the list and create an introduction with our 3 choices. I wanted students to think about creating an introduction that was different than what they've done in past writing pieces. In order for them to do this, they needed to see me model making different introductions by choosing different combinations from our list.
We spent about 10 minutes together working the different pages on the Smartboard lesson. We reviewed different ways to make introductory sentences such as writing a riddle, asking our audience a question, using onomatopoeia, explaining how they feel about elephants, and using a sentence planner. After we had reviewed, I sent the students back to their seats with a sentence planner paper, their reference cards on ways to make introductory sentences and their flow maps.
It was time for them to create.
My students went back to their seats. They started on their sentence planner sentences first. I decided to focus my attention on the students who needed more support. I brought them to the back table and began to guide them through the planner by asking them questions. I said, "What is a verb that an elephant can do?" If they answered something like "stretch," I would say, "Good. Now let's add the suffix -ing to that and record that in our verb column. The next column is the adverb column. How would the elephant be stretching?" Once we had completed one sentence I let them try a few on their own. You can see a video of my students making their introductory sentences here: Making Our Sentence Planner Sentences - Elephants.mp4.
While I was working with this group, other students went right to work. They had their resource cards and they knew they could combine several strategies to make an effective introductory sentence. The students were allowed to talk to their table mates in case they wanted to help each other. After helping my group, I circulated around the room and asked students which ways they wanted to try. You can see my students creating their introductions here: Making Our Introductory Sentences - Elephants.mp4 .
I wanted to make sure my strugglers were supported so I made sure I stopped by the table where I had grouped them to check on them. This was an opportunity to push my advanced students too. They are easily capable of adding adjectives and playing with language in order to make it more complex. I used this time to push them to do this.
I always like my closures to be nice and short. I had students find a partner and they each shared their introductions. We "shuffled the group" and found partners two more times, sharing our writing. This was a great opportunity to hear even more examples of how an introduction could be created.