Empowering Writers

February 2017 Lesson of the Month Connection

Your students are writing an information piece about a topic of interest – perhaps a science or social studies theme, or an essay on a favorite season, holiday, animal, or activity. The common student pitfall in this kind of piece is that they simply present a list of facts. When asked to “add some details” students are perplexed. What kinds of details should they add? Typically, in this circumstance, students simply locate nouns and insert adjectives, adding little significance to the piece. Here’s an example:

The student is writing about a tiger’s appearance: Tigers have stripes.

The teacher asks them to add some detail, and the student revises:

Tigers have interesting stripes.

The student has followed the teaching cue, but the resulting revision is weak. The student needs more direction. By applying “detail generating questions” students can begin to revise in more effective ways. Here are two of the detail generating questions that we sometimes refer to as the “1-2 Punch”:

  • What does it “look” like? (sound like, feel like, taste like, smell like, seem like)
  • Why is that important?

See how applying these two questions to the original sentence can drive a more effective revision:

Original sentence: Tigers have stripes.

“What does it ‘look’ like? Tigers have unique sets of gold and brown stripes…

“Why is that important?” Tigers have unique sets of gold and brown stripes that help camouflage them in their natural habitat.

Let’s take a look at the game that sets the stage for this technique, and a lesson that will transfer the understanding to writing.

Here is a link to the following pdf of EG grade 2, p.330 Lesson at a glance.

Here is a link to the following pdf of EG grade 2, p.327 Student reference sheet.

Interested in seeing examples of “Modeling” in the classroom, check out EW Online.