Common Core standards are written for the end of the year so it is hard to tell if students are progressing and will meet those standards. Over the past couple of years I have been documenting student growth so I may successfully predict whether a child will meet or exceed end of year expectations.
My colleagues and I spiral writing instruction so students will remember the three major types of writing. We enjoy teaching how-to writing mid-year in our second round of informative writing. Students know how to write so we can focus on introduction and closing sentences as well as transition words.
I had been using various TPT products to teach how-to writing but they did not include room for topic sentences (which in first grade is just introducing the topic) nor did they include room for a closing. First graders need to provide some sense of closure by the end of the year.
This year we focused on engaging, hands-on activities to teach writing.
First, I modeled how to make something. Then, I broke down each part of the writing step by step. For the introduction, I showed students what we were making and what is needed to make it. Students told the introduction to their elbow partner and then switched. They show me they are done like this:
Next, I model step by step. After each step, students orally rehearse what they will write with their elbow partners.
Of course, they get to have whatever it is we made!
Here is my good friend, Debbie. I had her wonderful daughter, Cayla, in my class a long time ago. Cayla is now in 10th grade.
Oral rehearsal is imperative in writing. If students can say it, they can write it. This, paired with visuals, and, in some cases, actually completing the task, ensures that all students will be successful.
When we made s'mores, I gave students all the ingredients. They wrote their introduction. Then, we put the chocolate on top of the graham cracker and wrote the first step. We continued to make the s'more while writing until we were done. Students were extremely successful with this writing.
One of my favorite how-to's is how to blow a bubble. The students are always SHOCKED that I actually let them chew gum in school. It is so fun watching the firsties try to blow a bubble. I can really see who is determined and persistent and who gives up. It's a great lesson on practice makes perfect!
This is the bulletin board we make for How to Blow a Bubble. I give students skin colored paper and they make their face. We tape a blown up balloon to their mouths as if they are blowing a bubble.
How to Build a Snowman
Students actually make a paper snowman
Once students know what to do, it is time for them to be independent. Here is a great writing activity for How to Build a Snowman. I give students all of the paper materials they need and they write a how-to.
How to Build a Snowman is a great culminating activity that is perfect for assessing your writers.
Looks fun, right? Why don't you test it out for yourself? All of these items are free in my TPT store!
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