Narrative vs. Expository

Nov 5, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: text structure; organization Mentor Text Suggestions: Narrative vs. Expository Companion Books Narrative Expository Description: To help students see the difference between narrative and expository text, begin by reading aloud two companion books about the same topic—one narrative and one expository. Example: Miss Spider’s Tea Party by Kirk, Neeley and White (narrative) and Spiders by Gail Gibbons (expository). Discuss the text features of each and record students’ observations on chart paper. Lead students to conclude that the narrative (story) has characters, setting, problem, solution and the author’s purpose is mainly to entertain. Conclusions about the expository (informational) text should include that it uses facts to explain, describe, persuade, instruct, or retell. The author’s purpose is mainly to inform the reader rather than entertain. During subsequent read aloud sessions, ask students to identify whether...

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Oral Language

Nov 5, 2009 by

Simply encouraging students to do more talking before they write will help them improve their organization of ideas. Remember, writing is thinking, so having students verbalize their stories before they put any words on paper will force them to think through their ideas and begin to organize their thoughts in a way that will make sense. This technique is especially helpful for reluctant writers or students who have a hard time getting started.  I like to assign writing partners in my classroom.  Students work with the same partner for an extended period (usually several weeks).  Sometimes before students begin writing, I ask them to tell their partners what they plan to write about that day.  This helps them organize their ideas orally before they begin to put them on paper. Share...

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Attention-Grabbing Leads

Nov 5, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: Organization Mentor Text Suggestions: Hey Al by Arthur Yorinks (description of character and question) Big Mama’s by Donald Crews (question) My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray (description of a person) Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (setting the mood) All About Owls by Jim Arnosky (question lead) Vote! by Eileen Christelow (What if..? Scenario) The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (quote) My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris (anecdote) Description: It is amazing how even this one mini-lesson can dramatically improve student writing. When a writer begins with a good lead s/he sets the tone for the entire story and entices the reader to read on. It is important that the first few sentences of a story grab the reader’s attention. Young writers often fall into the trap of beginning with a generic lead that...

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Satisfying Endings

Nov 4, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: organization Mentor Text Suggestions: Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies Just Like Daddy by Frank Asch The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger Rain by Manya Stojic Treasures of the Heart by Alice Ann Miller Big Mama’s by Donald Crews Birthday Presents by Cynthia Rylant Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack Description: A conclusion that leaves a final impression on the reader is just as important as an attention-grabbing lead. Students fall into traps with conclusions just as they do with leads. When students don’t know how to end a story, they will wind up saying something like: “And then I went home and went to bed.” “That is the end of my story.” “I hope you liked my story.” “I woke up and it was all a dream.” To help them avoid these traps, teach...

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Asking Questions

Nov 4, 2009 by

Writing Trait/Strategy: Adding details; organization Description: Some young writers have difficulty clearly conveying their message on paper. They know what they want to write about but struggle to capture their thoughts on paper in a way that is clear to the reader. This mini-lesson helps students see the need to clarify their information and include enough details for the reader. Model this technique by writing a “story” on the overhead or chart paper: My brother has a dog. Ask students what they think of your story. Most will say that you need to write more. Ask students what they want to know about your dog. They will ask questions such as, “What is its name? Where did you get it? What does it look like?” Write a second draft of your story, including answers...

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