Empowering Writers

October 2013 Lesson of the Month

The air has just a bite of cold and it’s time for wearing warm, cozy sweaters. That’s what autumn looks like here in New England. But is that what autumn looks like around the world? This lesson inspires students to research an area and then describe autumn in that area of the world.

Our lesson involves conducting research to discover what fall foliage looks like around the world – and then to write about it! Here’s what you do:

  1. Project a variety of Google Images of photos of fall foliage around the world. Discuss why leaves change color in the autumn, using books or other resources. Here’s website you might find helpful: http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/leaves.html
  2. Ask the class what they think autumn looks like around the world. How might they find out what fall foliage looks like in a variety of places across the globe. See if the class can generate a number of search terms that might be helpful. List these, conduct a search, taking note of which search terms produce the best results. (Here’s one website to check: http://www.smartertravel.com/photo-galleries/editorial/worlds-best-fallfoliage.html?id=43
  3. Project photos of foliage around the world, discuss, compare, describe. Have students pick their favorite autumn locations. (As a geography connection, help students pinpoint these places on a world map.)
  4. Write the following on the board: Autumn in __________. Explain that they will describe the autumn locale of their choice. They can begin with the sentence provided. MODEL an elaborative segment using the following productive questions: • What colors do you see? • What kind of trees? Type of trunk? Branches? • What kind of landscape? (hills, mountains, plains, fields, forest) • What kind of structures? (buildings, walls, walkways) • Kind, color of sky?

Continually probe for sensory information, charting student responses.

Completed responses might look like this: Autumn in Kyoto Japan is breathtaking. Gaze upon a rainbow of color – leaves of pale salmon to scarlet, purplish maroon to rust. Graceful long trunked trees are flanked by lush shrubbery providing a backdrop of brilliant hues. The foliage surrounds stone walkways and curved bridges leading to shrines with curved roofs and welcoming stairways.

(A fun too to help describe leaf colors – collect paint chips from your local hardware store and have children compare the variety of shades and names of range of hues.)

For younger students, have them draw an autumn tree from their location, labeling the parts, naming the leaf colors. Or, have them trace a leaf, sponge paint it, and describe.