Informational Writing All-About Books and How-To (Grades K-2)

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1 Informational Writing All-About Books and How-To (Grades K-2) The lessons provided for this informational writing packet are in two parts. First there are several lessons on writing all-about books. The second packet is a study of how-to writing. This can be used as a part of the all-about study or as a stand-alone unit of how-to writing. These lessons are guides for these units of study. Many other lessons can be developed in addition to or in place of these. Below are possible ways to increase the level of sophistication in writing, grades K-2. Although grade levels are noted on these lessons, they are not limited to these grades. Differentiation in instruction can be accomplished by using these lessons as teaching points in individual conferences. Kindergarten: First Grade: Second Grade: All About in simple form, maybe following more of a pattern (Mud, Mud, Mud) and including diagrams and how-to s All About books including: how to, different kinds of, definition page, table of contents, diagram All About books including: how to, different kinds of, definition page, diagram, table of contents, glossary introduction, supply list, and conclusion to the how-to component The first page of this study is a suggested book and magazine list. Teachers are encouraged, over time, to add to this list and create their own list of all-about favorites. At the back of this packet are paper templates for use in this unit of study (thanks to Lucy Calkins and her work in Primary Units of Study in Writing). Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 1

2 All-About Books Table of Contents Lesson Title Page Number Immersion Texts 3 Reading All-About Writing as a Reader (Grades 1-2) 5 Reading All-About Writing as a Writer (Grades 1-2) 6 Creating an Expert List (Grade 1) 8 Creating an Expert List (Grade 2) 9 Writing a Definition ( What Is Page) of the Topic (Grades 1-2) 10 Different Kinds of Writing (Grades 1-2) 12 How to Make a Diagram (Grades K-2) 14 Creating a Table of Contents (Grades 1-2) 15 Creating a Glossary (Grade 2) 17 Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 2

3 Informational Writing Immersion Texts (Grades K-2) Water I am a Leaf Orange Juice Mud, Mud, Mud The Quicksand Book The Cloud Book My Football Book My Basketball Book My Football Book My Soccer Book Frank Asch Frank Marzollo Betsey Chessen Dot Meharry Tomie DePaola Tomie DePaola Gail Gibbons Gail Gibbons Gail Gibbons Gail Gibbons Other Gail Gibbons books, including: The Moon Book Cats The Pumpkin Book Sea Turtles Tunnels Apples Donald Crews books, including: Carousel Parade Harbor Truck Various titles by these authors: Jim Arnosky Joanna Cole Robert Ballard Paul Fleischman Lisa Wheeler Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 3

4 Magazines, including (but not limited to): National Geographic for Kids National Geographic: Little Kids Spider Your Big Backyard Ranger Rick Highlights Highlights: High Five Click Owl Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 4

5 All About Books (Grades 1-2) Lesson: Reading All-About Writing as a Reader (Note: for full immersion in informational writing, repeat this lesson for two-three days.) Rationale: Before writers can successfully write their own informational texts, they need to spend time reading, noticing, thinking, and enjoying this genre of writing. Materials: A wide variety of informational texts, including books and magazines. Connection: Writers, we ve spent lots of time writing about interesting or special times in our lives. Today we re going to start thinking about another kind of writing. Often people write to share what they know to teach others all about something. We re all experts on different topics. For example, I know a lot about walking and music and tomatoes! I could write to teach others, who might not know about these things. Teach: Before we begin this kind of writing, we need to see how other writers share what they know. Let s take a look at My Soccer Book, by Gail Gibbons. I don t know very much about soccer so I m really interested in learning more about it. (Read book to class.) Say, I learned some things about soccer I didn t know! I never knew the goalie wore a different color shirt than the other members on his time. Have-a-Go: Turn and talk to your elbow buddy about connections you made to this book about soccer or something you learned that you didn t know before. Link: I ve gathered together lots of other books and magazines which have informational writing. With your partner, read a few of these books or magazine articles. Enjoy the books as readers today. Talk with each other about what you learned or about a connection to this topic in your own life. Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 5

6 All About Books (Grades 1-2) Lesson: Reading All-About Writing as a Writer Rationale: Before writers can successfully write their own informational texts, they need to spend time reading, thinking, and enjoying this genre of writing, as well as noticing the writing moves the author employs. Materials: A wide variety of informational texts, including books and magazines. Connection: Writers, we ve spent lots of time reading and enjoying books that are all-about certain topics. We ve read about soccer, cats, apples, pumpkins, horses, and lots of others. Teach: Before we begin this kind of writing ourselves, we need to see how other writers share what they know. Today I m going to think about what Gail Gibbons does a writer in My Soccer Book. I notice that she uses several diagrams to show us what a soccer field looks like, how the players stand on the field, and even what it looks like when the game starts. (Show each diagram.) She also explains what soccer is and explains the different kinds of equipment soccer players use. (Show those pages.) Look at this! At the end of the book she even has a little glossary, or dictionary, to explain lots of soccer words. Have-a-Go: Writers, with your buddy, go through a few of these all-about books. This time, read them with your writer s hat on. Notice what Gail Gibbons or the other authors did in their writing that helps readers get information about the topic of the book. (Allow 20 minutes or so for students to read and notice writing moves in a wide variety of informational literature. Spend time with several partners discussing with them what they re noticing.) Link: Writers, now that you ve had some time to look at the way other writers share information, let s make a chart so that we can remember the writing moves we ve seen in informational books and magazines. Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 6

7 Elicit from students what they ve noticed about informational writing. Probable noticings may include: Diagrams Labels How-to Different kinds of Table of Contents Index Glossary What is (Keep the chart posted in the classroom during this unit of study) Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 7

8 Lesson: Creating an Expert List All About Books (Grade 1) Rationale: One genre of writing in real life is informational. a lot about. Writers write about topics that they know Materials: Writer s notebook Connection: Writers, we ve spent a few days looking at many books that are all about a topic. We ve seen books about cats, apples, pumpkins, soccer, baseball, basketball, and football and lots of others too! Teach: All of us are experts about something quite often we re experts about many things. We ve noticed that Gail Gibbons writes about several different topics we can really tell she s an expert on those topics, can t we? I know a lot about several things too! I know a great deal about tomatoes and music and walking. On my expert list paper, I m going to start a list of the topics I know lots about. (Teacher makes a list on expert list paper or on overhead of topics on which he/she is an expert.) Have-a-Go: Writers, think quietly for a minute about the things you know a lot about. (Allow time for thinking.) Now turn to your elbow buddy. Take turns telling each other what you re an expert about. (Allow time.) Would anyone like to share with all of us what you know all about? (Allow time for several students to share.) Link: On your way back to your seat, get a paper for starting an expert list. As the days go by, you may think of more things that you know all about. When you do, you can add them to your list! Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 8

9 Lesson: Creating an Expert List All About Books (Grade 2) Rationale: One genre of writing in real life is informational. a lot about. Writers write about topics that they know Materials: Writer s notebook Connection: Writers, we ve spent a few days looking at many books that are all about a topic. We ve seen books about cats, apples, pumpkins, soccer, baseball, basketball, and football and lots of others too! Teach: All of us are experts about something quite often we re experts about many things. We ve noticed that Gail Gibbons writes about several different topics we can really tell she s an expert on those topics, can t we? I know a lot about several things too! I know a great deal about tomatoes and music and walking. In my writer s notebook I m going to start a list of the topics I know lots about. (Teacher makes a list in her notebook or on overhead of topics on which he/she is an expert.) Have-a-Go: Writers, think quietly for a minute about the things you know a lot about. (Allow time for thinking.) Now turn to your elbow buddy. Take turns telling each other what you re an expert about. (Allow time.) Would anyone like to share with all of us what you know all about? (Allow time for several students to share.) Link: When you go back to your seat, get your notebook out. Start a new page for your expert list. As the days go by, you may think of more things that you know all about. When you do, you can add them to your list! Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 9

10 All About Books (Grades 1-2) Lesson: Writing a Definition (What is Page) of the Topic Rationale: When writers explain all about a topic on which they are experts, it s important to include a definition page what is this topic. Materials: The Pumpkin Book (Gail Gibbons); definition page paper (box at the topic for picture with several lines for writing below) Connection: Writers, you have been doing lots of thinking and writing on what you are an expert about. We ve learned how to teach people to make or play or do something on our topics. We ve also learned how to share with people that our topics often have different kinds of parts, and they can learn about our big topic by reading about some of those kinds of details. (These chapters may have been presented in a different order. Adjust the wording of your connection according to how you have presented these parts.) Teach: Today we re going to learn about another kind of writing in our all-about books. Writers always explain to the readers about their topics, so that readers get the big idea of what the topic is all about. Let s look at Gail Gibbons The Pumpkin Book. At the very beginning of this book Gail Gibbons writes this: Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. Pumpkins are members of the squash family. There are many different kinds of pumpkins. Small pumpkins. Big pumpkins. Round pumpkins. Tall pumpkins. Gardeners and farmers call them pumpkin varieties. Some pumpkins have a smooth skin and others have lots of bumps. Isn t it smart of Gail Gibbons to explain what pumpkins are and write a few sentences about them at the very beginning of the book? I m thinking how I could explain tomatoes in my book. I could say something like this: Red, ripe, juicy, and delicious many people think tomatoes are vegetables, but they re really fruits. In Indiana, tomatoes are planted in the spring, and grow all summer long. They re usually ready to pick in August, about the time school starts. Tomatoes are full of vitamins and minerals so not only do they taste good, they re good for you too! Then in the box above I could draw some pictures of tomatoes like Gail Gibbons did in The Pumpkin Book. Have-a-Go: Let s think for a minute about some of your topics. If your topic is basketball, how would you explain to others a little bit about what basketball is? Or what if your book is about sisters? Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 10

11 How could you tell your readers what a sister is? Think about your expert topic for a minute. Now turn to your elbow buddy. Practice saying out loud to your elbow buddy what you can later write down, explaining what your expert topic is. Link: You re ready to write, writers! On your way back to your seat, get a copy of our definition paper. Remember that what you re trying to do is explain to your readers in several sentences what they ll be learning about in your all-about book. Teachers, you may find that students need further lessons or individual conferencing on various aspects of definition writing. These could include: 1. Helping students think in basic terms about what they re topic is helping them write as though the reader knows nothing about this topic. 2. Using language specific to the topic. Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 11

12 All About Books (Grades 1-2) Lesson: Different Kinds of Writing Rationale: One aspect of informational writing is that many topics have sub-topics which address different kinds of components. Materials: Cats (Gail Gibbons); different kinds of paper Connection: Writers, we know we re all experts about certain things. And we ve been learning how to write about these topics so that others can learn from us. Teach: Today we re going to learn how to write about the different kinds of things that go with our expert topic. I noticed in Gail Gibbons book Cats that she has several pages which are about different kinds of things related to cats. On this page she has three boxes which show different feelings cats can have. Then she explains a little more about each one on the lines below. On this page she explains different kinds of sounds cats make and also writes a little about each one. For my all about tomatoes book, I could have a section about different products that are made from tomatoes like catsup, salsa, tomato soup, and chili. I could draw a picture in the box and then explain more about each one. I could write, Tomatoes are an important part of salsa. They re chopped up and combined with green peppers, onions, and several spices. Salsa is great with chips! (Teacher models his/her own different kinds of writing.) Have-a-Go: Think of your big all-about topic. What different kinds of parts might you have? Turn to your elbow buddy and think of some different kinds of parts your all-about book might have. Tell your buddy what those parts might include, like my different kinds of tomato products. Link: When you go back to your seat, get some different kinds of paper. You may want to start with a drawing in each box before you begin to write about each one. You may discover that your topic has more than one different kinds of parts. Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 12

13 Teachers may find that students need further lessons or individual conferencing on various aspects of different kinds of writing. These could include: 1. Using specific language. 2. Adding humor. 3. Thinking of different kinds of elements on certain topics 4. Adding labels to the picture. 5. Saying more --elaborating on each of the different kinds Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 13

14 All-About Books (Grades K-2) Lesson: How to Make a Diagram for an All-About Book Rationale: Diagrams can convey information to readers with both the accuracy of the drawing and the labels which identify parts Materials: Cats (Gail Gibbons); chart paper; markers; diagram paper Connection: Writers, we noticed that in many of the informational books we studied, writers include a diagram of something. As readers we can learn a lot about a topic by looking at a drawing and the labels which name its parts. Diagrams are important ways to share information. Teach: Let s take a look at the diagram of a cat from Gail Gibbons Cats book. I don t think Gail Gibbons thought to herself, Oh, everyone knows what a cat s eye looks like. I don t think I ll include that. I think she knew that it was important to label every important part of the cat. She knew that we need to pretend that our readers don t know everything we, as experts, know. I also notice that she writes the label close to the part she s identifying and also draws a line to it. That way our readers know exactly what we re explaining to them. Look at this special diagram paper I will use for my drawing of a tomato plant. I try to make my drawing big enough to almost fill the page, like Gail Gibbons did with the cat diagram. Now I ll label the roots below the ground, the stem, the leaves, a blossom, and a tomato too. See how I write the label close to the part and even draw a line to connect them? I want to make sure my readers understand what the parts are called. (Do this work related to your own expert topic.) Have-a-Go: Turn and talk to your neighbor know about the kind of diagram related to your expert topic that you will draw. Also tell your neighbor which parts of that drawing you will label. Link: Now when you go back to your seats, get a sheet of our special diagram paper. Draw your picture big enough that it almost fills the page because then it will be easier for readers to see the parts and know what they re called. Label the parts by putting the names close to the part. Try to draw a line connecting the label to the part. Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 14

15 All-About Books (Grades 1-2) Lesson: Creating a Table of Contents for an All-About Book Rationale: Many informational texts include a table of contents which can be helpful to readers as they scan a book and try to get an overview of its contents. Materials: Texts like What a Job! (Bair and Wright/Rigby) and Animal Mysteries (Reeves/Rigby) which include a table of contents page; table of contents paper; student books (with them in your meeting area) Connection: Writers, we have spent several days now writing our all-about books. You ve done a wonderful job in explaining to others something that you know all about. Your books have several parts how to do something, what your topic is, some different kinds of sections, and diagrams with labels too. Teach: Today we re going to add one more part to our books. This is another very important part. This is called the table of contents. You may have seen this part in other informational books. It is almost always at the very front of the book. It has a list of the parts of the book and also the page number on which each part begins. (Show a couple of table of contents pages.) This is an important part because it helps readers know all the kinds of writing they ll find in our books. It also tells them on which pages those parts or chapters begin. This is the last page we add to our books. Before we can make the table of contents, we need to arrange the chapters of our books in the order we want readers to read them. In my tomato book, I m going to start with my what is page. Then I think I ll put my diagram of a tomato page next. After that I think I ll put my how to plant a tomato page and my last page will be my different kinds of tomato products page. (Teacher models his/her own thinking in assembling book.) Now that I have my pages in order, I m going to number them. I ll make my table of contents page come first, and then I ll make my definition page number one, and so on. Now that my pages are numbered, I can write my table of contents page. I ll put the name of the parts in order on each line. Next to each chapter name, I ll write the page number where it begins. (Teacher models his/her own.) Have-a-Go: While we re sitting here together, put your pages in the order you want them to appear in your Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 15

16 book. (Allow time and assist students who need help.) Link: On your way back to your seats, pick up a table of contents page. As soon as you sit down, write the page number on each page, keeping your pages in the order you decided just now. Then on your table of contents page, list each chapter in order, along with the page number where the chapter appears. Teachers, you may find that students need further lessons or individual conferencing on various aspects of creating a table of contents. These could include: 1. Determining the order of the chapters 2. Numbering the pages correctly. 3. Organizational concerns: keeping the pages together once the order is determined, etc. 4. Accurately writing the chapter titles in order on the table of contents page and making sure the page number corresponds correctly Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 16

17 All About Books (Grade 2) Lesson: Creating a Glossary for an All-About Book Rationale: Writers of informational texts often include a glossary to explain to their readers the meanings of new or unfamiliar words. Materials: All about book which includes new words (bolded in the text) and a glossary at the back of the book; students all about books; glossary paper Connection: Writers, I ve learned so much about many different topics from the all about writing you ve been working on. In fact sometimes I ve come across words in your writing and I ve thought to myself, Hmmm.I wonder what that word means. (Give a plausible example from a student s work.) Teach: I ve noticed that writers who write all about a certain topic write some words in bold type. That lets readers know that not only is it an important word, but also that often they can find the meaning of it in the book s glossary a little dictionary at the back of the book. We can use this special glossary paper to create a glossary for our all about books. A word in my all about book that I think readers may not know is tomato start. So I m going to go over the letters and make them look dark and bold. Then on this glossary page I ll write the word tomato start. Then I ll explain what it means: a very young tomato plant. (Teacher models with his/her own all about book.) Have-a-Go: Writers, look through your all about book. Find a word that you think your readers may not know or at least may not know very well. First go over the word with your pencil so that it s darker than the other words. Then on your glossary paper, first write the word and then after it explain what it means. Link: When you go back to your seats, keep working on your glossary. Find words that may be new to readers, make them bold in your all about book, and then add them to your glossary just like you did your first word. Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 17

18 Julia Nixon, East Noble School Corporation Writing Coach, 2010 Page 18

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