Tips and tools from an elementary school Literacy Coach
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Good Expository Introductions... it's time to let "Hi, my name is..." go.
Hi, my name is...
Today I'm going to tell you about...
Did you know...
All of those are pretty uninteresting. But sometimes, that's all that students know to do when they're writing an introduction. Expository writing can be especially difficult, as students tend to use the above beginnings when they write about a topic.
To help them develop a better sense of what makes a good introduction (we're specifically calling them introductions in expository, rather than 'beginnings', in the hopes of differentiating from a narrative), we planned the following lesson.
We chose to initially focus on three different types of introductions. Asking a question, a surprising fact, and description. Each of these needs to relate and include the central idea of the essay.
1. Share a model introduction. Good sources for this include Time for Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, etc. A real introduction from a real text is especially meaningful.
2. Discuss as a class - What did the writer do in that introduction? and Why should you use this strategy in your own introduction?
3. The teacher models writing the type of introduction about her own central idea.
4. Students practice writing that type of introduction about their own central idea.
After the teacher has shared, modeled, and students have written their own, they choose the best one for their piece.
Why It's Valuable:
Writers use strategies to create interesting and meaningful writing. For students to learn to do this, it's important for them to see real models of writers using these strategies effectively. Then they have to think as writers - why did the writer choose this strategy? How did they do it? Why is it effective?
By requiring them to try each introduction before choosing their best one, we're diversifying their writing abilities. We want kids to be able to make choices in their writing to see which strategies best convey the message to their reader. If they're always stuck using the same types of writing strategies, they're limited in their options. We want to grow their awareness about writing choices and their ability to make them!
What kinds of expository introductions do you teach your students?