Focus Question: What components are needed to write a clear and interesting sentence?
“Today, we are going to describe our classroom. Name some items that are in our classroom.” Write these items down for the class. Continue asking for items until you reach a total of five. “Now I want you to use your senses to help describe these things.” To model taking observation notes, ask for student responses and write them down in the first column of the Descriptive Writing Chart from Lesson 1 (LW-1-1-1_Descriptive Writing Chart.doc) displayed on the class viewing copy or on chart paper. Tell students that this list is made up of nouns. Ask students what they could use to describe each noun. (Students should answer adjectives or descriptive words.) Remind students that adjectives (descriptive words) tell about a noun, using one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Ask students to help you add some adjectives to your list of nouns and record student responses on the class viewing copy or chart paper in the appropriate columns. You may need to prompt students by asking questions such as:
- “What color is it?”
- “How tall or big is it?”
- “Is it rough, soft, or smooth?”
- “How does it smell?”
- “What sound does it make?”
Make sure each student has a clipboard or something firm to write on, a copy of the Descriptive Writing Chart from Lesson 1 (LW-1-1-1_Descriptive Writing Chart.doc), and a pencil.
“Now that we know how to fill out our chart, let’s go outside and make some observations. I would like each of you to write down five things (nouns) that you see on our walk. Then I’d like you to record as much detail about each thing as you can by filling out your chart.” Take students on a walk around the playground or an outside area near your school. Help students as they record their observations.
If you have the means, taking pictures of what students see is helpful. They can refer to the pictures later to help jog their memories or use them when they create illustrations.
Have students keep their observation records for Part 2 of this lesson and for Lesson 3.
Have students go to the gathering area with their observation records. “Today we are going to use our observations to write a story about our walk. First, I need each of you to identify and describe one thing that you saw so I can record it on the observation chart.” Record the student responses (list of nouns and their adjectives) on chart paper or an enlarged copy of the Descriptive Writing Chart. “Each noun should have enough adjectives so that someone who wasn’t there could picture it in his/her mind. Are there any nouns on the list that should have more adjectives?” Once students have described each noun sufficiently with adjectives, model how to use the information from the completed chart to write descriptive sentences.
“Now let’s use the observations to help us write a story about our walk. Our story will have a beginning, a middle filled with lots of descriptive sentences, and an end.” Begin by writing an opening sentence for the story on the board (or class viewing copy or chart paper). For example, write “Today we went outside for a walk.”
Talk to students about the definition of a sentence. (A sentence is a group of words that is a complete thought.) “Remember that sentences begin with a capital letter and have end punctuation such as a period, question mark, or exclamation point.”
Ask students if they have ideas for other ways to begin the story. Record these sentences as well, and then ask if the story could also start with a question or an exclamation. “Can you think of examples of an opening question and an exclamation?” Model each of these types of sentences for the class. Write some options on the board. Finally, have students tell which sentence they would like to use to begin the story and why.
Next, model a descriptive sentence using an item from the class chart. For example, if you were describing a tree, you might write, “The first thing I saw was a giant, twisted oak tree that had red and brown leaves.”
Talk to students about the opening (transition) words that tell the reader more about “when” and are used to help the reader move from one idea to another. Post or make copies of the Transition Words document (LW-1-1-2_Transition Words.docx) to remind students of some options.
“Which word is the noun in the sentence? Which words are the adjectives?” As students respond, underline (or circle or star) in different colors the transition word, the noun, and the adjectives. Then ask students if they have any other descriptive words they would like to add to the sentence.
Ask for student volunteers to create more descriptive sentences orally as you continue to model writing the story. If students are not able to fully describe the item, have them return to the observation list for help.
After each sentence, ask students to tell you which word is used to help move the reader from one idea to another (transition), which word is the noun they are describing, and which words are the adjectives. Have students come up and mark each of the word types in each sentence.
Help students craft a variety of sentences by prodding them to think of interesting introductory words to help with sequencing or by changing some of the statements into questions or exclamations. Once the story is complete, read it to the class. Ask students if the story has:
- an opening sentence.
- interesting descriptive sentences.
- a variety of types of sentences: statement, question, exclamation.
- transitions that move the story along.
- an ending sentence.
- correct punctuation.
Have students keep their completed Descriptive Writing Chart for Lesson 3.
- Make copies of students’ descriptive writing charts and have students cut the squares apart. Then have them combine their squares with a partner’s squares. Tell students to work together to separate the nouns into one pile and the adjectives into another. Encourage them to create funny sentences with the mixed up nouns and adjectives. Each sentence still should have one noun and multiple adjectives, but encourage creativity and silly combinations like “I have a prickly, soft, round kazoo.”