Our very first expository writing unit was our Honeybee unit. In that unit I really didn't have a lesson on writing an introduction, and the resulting weakness in my students' topic sentences was evident. So before we did our second expository unit on Crabs, I created a lesson on introductions. The students did so well with their introductions in that unit that I knew I had to continue to include this lesson whenever we work on expository writing to reinforce how important this part of their writing is. It is also a key component of W.1.2 and will help students on their path to writing effective expository paragraphs. As teachers we know that when we read if that first part of a story doesn't capture our attention than the reader won't continue with the story. This is exactly what I want to convey to my students.
You will have to prepare many materials for your students for this lesson. You will need the Smartboard lesson "Amazing Introductory Sentences". You will also have to make enough student copies of the "Ways to Make Introductory Sentences " bookmarks, The introductory sentence planner charts, and flow maps for each of your students. I do only have 30 minutes to teach writing each day and it did take me more than one day to complete this lesson. If you can't finish this lesson in one day, don't worry. You can also modify this lesson so it fits your schedule.
I set the purpose for today's lesson by stating the objective. I said, "Today we are going to create our introductory sentences on sharks. Remember, as a writer, if you don't grab the reader's attention in your introduction they aren't going to want to continue to read your story. "
I called my students to the carpet to sit in front of the Smartboard. I took my time going through the slides with the different ways to make introductions when we did our Crab unit, so instead of having my students write the practice activities for the different introductions on the Smartboard lesson we did a quick review looking at the examples of the different introductions on the Smartboard lesson. We reviewed that we can create a great story introduction by using onomatopoeia, writing a riddle, stating how you feel about your topic, asking your audience a question, creating a sentence planner sentence using complex language, and inviting your students to come and learn about your topic.
I said, "You are going to go back to your seats and we are going to work on one sentence planner sentence together. Then You will have the opportunity to create 2 more sentence planner sentences on your own." The students went back to their seats and I passed out their charts. I went to my slide on the Smartboard lesson that had my chart, and I began to talk about the different parts of speech. I said, "This first part says we have to put a verb with the suffix -ing on it. Talk with your elbow partner about what verb a shark can do that has the suffix -ing." Partners talked, and then we had a class discussion. I took the suggestion "diving" and wrote it in the verb section on my chart. I had the students do this as well. Then I said, "Now we need an adverb that ends with the suffix -ly. An adverb describes the verb. So how is the shark diving? Talk with your elbow partner." After a class discussion I took the suggestion silently and wrote that in the adverb section on my chart. The students did this as well on their charts.
We continued in this fashion with the remain parts of the chart which had the prepostional phrase, the noun, and the verb phrase. Eventually we came up with this sentence - Diving silently under the sea, the shark hunts for its prey. When we were done writing this sentence, I said, "Now that you know what to do, you have the opportunity to come up with two more sentences on your own." You can see a little bit of our guided practice in the video here in the resource section.
I walked around the classroom, helping some of my students who still were struggling with their sentences. I would say things like, "You need a verb with the suffix -ing here. What sort of verb could a shark do that ended with an -ing? How about an adverb? It describes the verb. How did the shark do that verb?" By really using that academic vocabulary of the specific parts of speech and how they are used in a sentence my students really had a better understanding of the parts of speech and what role they played in a sentence. This is an authentic application of the language standards in this lesson.
Once students were finished with their sentences I passed out the flow maps and their "Ways to Make and Introductory Sentence" bookmarks. I said, "Now it's time for you to create your own introductions for your shark story. Remember you need three different ways to create your introduction. Look at your bookmarks and choose whatever ways you want. Remember, we are only writing in the introduction box on our flow maps today. We will write the rest of our stories tomorrow." Then I stepped back and let them work. I was thinking all the time: student independence! You can see how my students did in the video here in the resource section.
I really believe that I am not the only expert in my classroom. Children learn so much from each other. My students did a great job making their introductions and I wanted them to share those introductions with their classmates. I asked, "Who would like to share their introduction?" After sharing I would ask the other students, "What ways did they use to create their introduction?" I know my students enjoyed hearing other students' introductions, and, by discussing how other students put their introductions together, they were able to get lots of different ideas.