Empowering Writers

September 2016 Lesson of the Month

September Lesson of the Month

In building a foundation for writing, students need to understand the key concepts of each of the genres, from the planning frameworks to the techniques used by authors. This understanding leads to planned, organized generative writing as well as discernment for response to text. This month’s lesson can be used alongside the genre study and lessons coinciding with the diamond, pillar and the summarizing/planning frameworks (Section 1 in the Narrative and Expository Guides). The Empowering Writers Narrative and Expository Guides, as well as the grade level Essential Guides begin the year with a study of the genres, the organizational tools, and the summarizing/pre-writing frameworks that correspond with narrative and expository. This lesson highlights those same skills, but also gives students the chance to practice the concepts in groups.


Students will work in groups, generating a narrative story plan and expository essay framework from a random collection of items assembled by the teacher. Each plan will include the identity of the genre, a title for the piece, and a pre-plan for the story and/or composition.  (They will not write the actual pieces, just participate in planning them, keeping in mind genre, purpose, and organizational structure.  (Purpose of narrative writing – to entertain – diamond structure representing beginning, middle, end, focusing on a character with a problem or adventure.  Purpose of expository writing – to inform, pillar structure representing topic, main ideas, and supporting details.)

Here’s what you’ll do:

1.)   First, you will need to gather a random collection of items in a bag. Some ideas might include: towel, fork, sunglasses, pillow, candle, apple, snack crackers, rain coat, flip flops, etc. These items can be a collection from home, school or a combination of the two.

2.)   Combine the students into groups of 2-3. Each group will choose an item from the bag.

3.)   They will plan a narrative story using the object as one of the story critical elements. The group will create a title for their story, identify whether the story will be a personal narrative or a character/problem/solution narrative, and fill in the narrative pre-writing plan.

4.)   Next, students will use the same object and plan an expository piece, identifying the topic and filling in the expository pre-writing plan, adding at least 3 MAIN IDEAS. The random object can be used as the topic, a MAIN IDEA or a detail within MAIN IDEA.

5.)   Choose an item from the collection to MODEL a lesson with the groups. For example, if you choose a towel, ask the students to share any entertaining stories they have experienced with a towel as the object of the story. Students might share a story at the beach using the towel as a mat to lay on, a towel used as a bed cover, a towel as a floor mat, a towel as pet clean up, etc. Use one of their stories to create a story title and plan.


TITLE: Marley’s Security Towel

This is a story about Marley the dog.

The problem was that her favorite security towel was lost during our move.

The problem was solved when we finally found the rugged old towel in the last unopened moving box.

Type of Narrative: Character/Problem/Solution

6.)   Next, MODEL the towel used as a detail or MAIN IDEA in an expository pre-writing plan. Ask students to share some ways towels are used. Chart these. For example, they are used to lay on or dry off at the beach, to clean up messes, as a substitute for bed covers or dog beds, dry off or wrap hair in after a shower, etc. Use these ideas to plan an expository piece. (if the Pick, List, Choose skill has been introduced, share their ideas through this process)


Topic: Towels

Main Idea #1:  Beach

Main Idea #2:  Clean Up

Main Idea #3:  Dry off

Main Idea #4:  Substitute bedding

7.)  Close the lesson by reviewing and contrasting the purpose and organizational frameworks for narrative and expository writing.