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Monday, June 1, 2015

Procedural Writing & Inference - together, it can be done!

Yawn.  Teaching writing forms in isolation can be such a bore.  This month reports, next procedures, after that you review recounts. Blah, blah, blah.  I think writers become better writers by reading lots and writing lots.  What if a student doesn't want to write a procedure?  What if another is only excited by poetry? Yes, exposure to all forms of writing is important.  They should be taught at some point, reviewed and revisited throughout elementary school.  But if you want kids to be excited about writing, let them have some power when it comes to what they write!

     When you NEED to teach a writing form, it's best to 'look in a book'.  I enjoy reading a book to get students thinking about the form of writing we are studying.  Call it an icebreaker.  Students may use parts of the book in their writing or it may trigger an idea for their writing.

     I love the book How to -  by Julie Morstad.  It is beautifully simple and the illustrations are hauntingly poignant (how's that for flowery description?).  Each of the illustrations show a vulnerability of the characters and an innocence of youth.  At it's simplest level, this is a book that kids will relate to and adults will enjoy sharing.

     How would Mrs. D use this book?
Every one of the pictures in this book can be used to teach inferenceSuch a hard reading strategy to teach and learn!  When using pictures to teach inferring I use WCB? and WCA?  What came before the picture? and What came after the picture?  There can be no right or wrong answer but there can be great inferences made with the beautiful illustrations in this book.

     For writing instruction, this is a great book to introduce Procedural Writing.  As I mentioned before, this can be a dry form of writing to teach and produce.  With this book you will leave the recipes and game instructions behind - wahoooo!  These are not your run-of-the-mill procedures.  Students may choose to write the procedures that are introduced in the book.  By doing this, they will be given the opportunity to make a much more creative procedure than if they were to write about how to make a ham sandwich!  Here are some of my favs: 'How to go slow' or 'How to see the wind'.  Then there's 'How to be a mermaid', which made me instantly think of my daughter who is famous for lengthy, luxurious baths.  Again, the pictures are what truly makes this book shine.  You must see for yourself, the pictures for 'How to make new friends', 'How to wash your face' AND 'How to wash your socks'. so.great. This is a lovely book to share.  Almost a shame to use it for introducing procedures!  You won't be sorry though and I bet the procedures your student produce will be creative and heart felt!

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