This is the first of a three part lesson to construct a five paragraph essay. Writing an essay this long is a challenge for my second grade students, so we are working on it over several days. I want to be very deliberate about the process so the students can understand the process of how to write organized paragraphs with clear details to support the main idea, as well as introductory and concluding paragraphs.
We are writing about a melting snowman because the students have been studying states of matter. Instead of writing any informational text, I chose to use this science text because I want the students to get a cross-curriculum experience. The Common Core standards represent a shift toward writing about informational topics, including introducing a topic, using facts to develop points, and providing a concluding sentence (W.2.2) This lesson is an important step towards supporting students to practice writing an informative/explanatory paragraph conveying complex ideas and presenting information clearly and accurately. Second grade students can usually write a paragraph with details, but need practice to weave a succinct introductory and concluding paragraph into a paragraph with a strong main idea and details.
When writing about an informational topic that you are studying, make sure the students are really FAMILIAR with the topic. When they are learning new writing skills, they need to be secure with the information they are writing about.
I taught several lessons that lead up to this. The kids learned how to find the main idea by using repeated words in Points of Informational Text-Main Idea and Details and then how to write a topic/concluding paragraph in the lessons Strip the Paragraph with Strong Introductory and Concluding Sentences and Writing Great Topic & Concluding Sentences.
Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics. The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary. My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)
Get students engaged
Common starting point
Give the purpose of the lesson
Review strategy – guided practice
Organize the ideas
Write the paragraph
Students share their ideas
Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.
Students with academic challenges should be paired with a good writer. Idea generation should be equitable, but the organization and actual sentence writing may be challenging. You could also work with them in a group to write a paragraph together.
Encourage students with more ability to use some of the higher level vocabulary – ‘evaporate’, ‘condensation’, and ‘change states of matter’.