Friday, January 24, 2014

Non-fiction writing

We've been working on writing non-fiction stories about animals. The CCSS require first grade students to write non-fiction stories with a topic sentence, 2-3 details, and a conclusion. Can I just say: I am pretty sure I didn't have to do anything like that until at least 7th grade!!!

I'm not a big fan of our writing curriculum, but we were able to break away from it for 3 weeks. We asked the kids to write animal stories, and it was so much fun! First, we read some non-fiction animal books. Then I did some modeling. For guided practice we created an anchor chart together. 
Click to download this non-fiction writing anchor chart.
My handwriting is not pretty, so I like to type out the components of my anchor charts and have the kids help me assemble them. For this, I cut apart all the pieces and displayed them in a pocket chart. I asked the kids to help me figure out the correct sequence.  The next day the kids worked in small groups to assemble their own anchor chart puzzles. (I used the same anchor chart and wrote about different animals, then I just cut them apart in random places--you can get them at my TN store for free). Once they had the charts assembled, I told them they needed to be ready to share their topic sentences and conclusions with the class. This really helped to drive home the vocabulary 'topic sentence' and 'conclusion.' We looked for commonalities in the topic sentences and conclusions. All this work enabled us to create sentence frames for topic sentences and conclusions together. (It wasn't accidental, but they don't know that.)

__________ are animals.
__________ are amazing!

All the kids chose an animal. I gave them colored paper, and they folded it in half. They wrote their topic sentence on one half and their conclusions on the other half. I told them they needed to end their writing with a POW! So now they think the words conclusion, exclamation point, and POW are synonymous-- oh well. The next day I gave them a different color paper, and we folded it into fourths. They wrote a fact in each section. They got to do research from my ridiculously large selection of animal books. When they put their sentences in order, the different colors made it look kind of like a sandwich. I started using my desk status tents around this time, which really helped maintain order. They were pretty proud of the finished products.

This post is linked with:
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  1. I love your students' animal drawings. Sounds like you broke the writing process into nice pieces for your students. Maria

  2. A break in the required curriculum can be a breath of fresh air!

    The Math Maniac


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