What Is Your Animal Paragraph About?

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SWBAT: Write an explanatory paragraph that introduces a topic, supplies facts, and provides a concluding statement.

Big Idea

Who lays the largest egg? Who crawls sideways? Who has brilliant blue wings? I am ready and eager to find out. Come along with me and find out!


5 minutes

Summary and Context

Now that students have researched their animal, it is time for them to write about it. I want them to write about it in a structured way to achieve standard W.2.2. That is why I will model the process for them. After modeling, I give students a long time to write.

Once students have written, they will get a chance to share with their peers. 

Opening Activity

The strategy of repetition works well with my English Language Learners. I use it often. Today, after sharing the objective on the rug, I ask my students to again define the word habitat (video). I think it is important to give students the opportunity to define terms in their own words. I give them feedback to facilitate the process.

Modeling a Paragraph About Wolves

15 minutes

I want my students to write the paragraph in a structured, organized way, so I take the time to model the process. For this, I reference the tree map we made in the previous lesson to show students how to the information from the chart to write a paragraph.

Before I start modeling how to write about the topic, I first reference a chart with examples of introductory sentences. I draw their attention to the chart and say, "It is good to have examples of how to start a paragraph in a way that hooks the reader. How can we invite someone to read our writing?"

I take some responses, and then I explain how starting a paragraph with a question can make the reader curious and make the writing fresh and inviting. I model by saying, "Today, I want you to think about a sound your animal makes, and incorporate it into a question for your first sentence."

I tell my students, "Watch what I write." Then I write the introductory sentence. After I write the initial question, I write the answer, and ask students to follow my lead. I want to emphasize the introductory sentences, so I write the first two in a different color.

Next, I refer back to my Wolves Tree Map to write the rest of the sentences. For example, I pose the question to students: "What colors are wolves?" I draw their attention the chart and we read the information together. Rather than just list the colors in my paragraph, I model including the transition sentence, "Wolves are different colors." I tell students that this is one way to make the paragraph interesting. 

Next, I say to the kids, "I don't want to use the word Wolves to start this sentence, because I used it to start the previous sentence. It is important to write a variety of sentences. So this time, I will start the sentence with the word Some."

I proceed in this manner until I write the last sentence of my paragraph. I model how to write the last sentence by discussing with the class about the best way to finish the paragraph. I write the closing sentence in a different color, too.

Before students start writing, I make sure they have access to all the charts and the model paragraph.

Students Write Paragraphs

30 minutes

Now my students will write about their animal and explain its characteristics. It is best to give students a good amount of time to write. This gives them the opportunity to reflect more deeply on what they know. I want them to take their time, and to refer back to their animal tree maps.I have asked my students to write between 5 to 7 sentences.

I let students know that they can also refer back to their informational sheets, if they want to. Additionally, they can refer to the charts on the white board for support.

I walk around to make sure students get started, and to answer any questions. They may have questions about how to start their paragraph. Some students may have questions about how to spell words, how to indent their first line, or how to close their paragraph.

When I modeled the introductory sentence by asking about a sound their animal makes, I also let students know that they could be creative and think of other traits to begin their paragraph. To get an idea of how their introductory sentences are coming along, I ask a few students to share theirs.

I have included some examples of their writing in the Resources.

Whole Group Sharing

12 minutes

A common routine in my classroom is having students share their work. 

Some of the benefits students receive as they share is building their self-esteem for themselves and their work. In addition, my English Language Learners benefit from practicing academic language in a safe environment.

Today, the speakers will get to hear if they did a good job explaining the characteristics of their animal. Volunteers in the audience share an example of what they learned from the speaker. This process keeps both the speaker and the audience accountable, and keeps the conversation focused.

I've included videos of students sharing their paragraphs in the Resources.