Tuesday, January 7, 2014

procedural writing - giving directions

Here's a very fun, very active activity to help teach students about the importance of using detail and being specific. (Best if there is another adult around to help out!)

First, pair students up (we almost always use The Hat because the kids never want to chose their own partners anymore, which astounds me every time). Two is best, but I have one of those classes where there's always going to be a group of 3.

Have them each choose a destination in the school and a reason, and write it on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. We used this sentence starter:
We are going to the (ES Field/washroom/canteen) because (we have PE after recess/sometimes you gotta go/we are hungry).

Then, have all of the pairs switch clipboards. Their job is to read the first sentence from the other group, and then write the very first thing that must be done in order to reach that destination by actually doing the step. Most caught on pretty quickly that all of the procedural writing pieces would start with "walking to the classroom door, turning the handle, pushing it open, and going through." (So each pair of kids walked to the door, turned the handle, pushed it open, and went through.)

Then the partners come back in the room and switch clipboards with another group. They complete that last step all over again with the new destination, doing the next step, and writing the directions down. The key is that after they complete a step and write the directions, the partners always have to come back to the class to switch clipboards.

In the end, students were walking all over the school to get to the final destinations (the reason an extra adult is so so so helpful), arguing over how specific each step should be ("Then you walk 87 steps down the hallway." "No, then you walk 94 steps down the hallway!"), and participating in so much collaborative procedural writing! They LOVED this one, and it's one I'll definitely want to do next year.

Afterward, we did a quick reflection about the learning activity itself using my huge, awesome display Venn.

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