To get the students brains focused on description, I will ask the students to briefly describe what they had breakfast. I will ask them to record their descriptions on a notecard.
Then, I will have the students complete a Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up to share their descriptions...and make everyone hungry!
Finally, I'll ask a few students to share and as they are sharing, I'll capture some of their descriptions and write them on the board.
Once I feel like I have enough, I'll ask the students why I chose to write down the descriptions I did. I want to elicit that these descriptions help to paint that picture in our minds! What makes them good descriptions? What words stick out?
I want the students to see how good descriptions are built using adjectives and strong verbs.
I'll then inform the students that today we using the text structure we learned about yesterday. I will ask a student to review that structure with us and for the class.
Once we have all reviewed the text structure of description and feel comfortable with how it is constructed, I am going to go through what I want the students to do for the the writing assignment.
First, I'll review with the students the steps for writing. Many sixth graders do not remember to follow the steps and rush into the writing and often finding themselves stuck. I stress the writing process in my classroom because it truly helps those struggling writers find success.
As a class, we will brainstorm some ideas we can write about. I will generate this list on the board with the students. Next, I will model with the students how I would pick a topic: What topic do I enjoy talking about the most? What topic could I describe with lots of detail? What topic would be easy for my audience to picture?
Once I have decided on a topic, I want to fill out the graphic organizer. I will model this step using a story of my beagle Copper. The students can see how a writer thinks when constructing details. I often talk aloud as I'm writing and will erase ideas I'm not too happy about. I think it is good for the students to see how a real writer doesn't just breeze through it. It takes time and lots of revisions!
I will just take the students through the steps of completing the graphic organizer. I will remind them that we are just writing down basic descriptions and can and will add details to our paragraphs.
I will review the steps; brainstorm, graphic organizer, first draft of paragraph. Once the students have an understanding of the steps I will let them work.
Independently writing is a task most middle school teachers have to mentally prepare themselves for. A lot of students do not enjoy writing and it can take a lot of encouragement to even get them to start.
One way I battle this is to require all students to brainstorm first. I tell the students that brainstorming is like warming up the oven before you bake. You have to get your brain thinking before you can just write.
Even brainstorming can present some struggles, so I will really play the crowd while they are working. I'll circulate the room, sharing other students' brainstorm list, throwing out ideas of my own. I'll sit and conference with the struggling students, trying to generate ideas. Finally, if they absolutely refuse and can think of NOTHING to write about, I give them a topic.
As students brainstorm, I'll make suggestions to what I think may be a good topic from their list. I'll ask them questions about their topic, to help create details.
Then, I'll approve their list and encourage them to start on the graphic organizers. Again, I will do much of the same here. I'll circulate, guide, and check for understanding.
Finally, once their graphic organizers are complete, I'll have them start on the first draft of their paragraph. I call it the first draft because most students will have to revise for some reason.
As they are working, I'll check for topic sentences, closing sentences, good word choice. I like to be involved as they are writing to give as much feedback on the spot as I can. It actually makes the grading a lot easier!
Finally, I'll have the students turn the paragraphs in once they are finished or take them home to finish.
Now that we understand what the text structure of description is, I want the students to start thinking of why an author might use this structure. What would be some purposes for writing with this structure?
I will ask students to answer these questions on a Closure Slip that I can assess and use for further lesson development.