Thursday, February 28, 2019

Creative expository introductions mentor text lesson *free resource!

Expository introductions. Gone are the days when "I'm going to tell you all about sharks" was an
acceptable introduction. I mean really, was it ever acceptable? And yet, here were are, in the 21st century, teaching kids not to do it.

But, even if they know they shouldn't do that, they don't always know what to do. This is where mentor texts become really important. 

To help your kids learn a different kind of expository introductions, turn to the authors who do it best.

One of my favorite mentor authors is Nicola Davies. She writes about the most interesting topics in such an engaging way: sharks, sea turtles, bats, and even poop. (Yep, poop.)

One of my favorite Davies mentor texts is Surprising Sharks. It's full of interesting information and a new perspective on sharks. But the best part might be the introduction.

It's a unique introduction. It asks the reader to imagine swimming in the ocean and think about what is the scariest thing about being there.

She asks a few questions to get the reader's brain ready to think about sharks, and then she introduces her topic.
To use this book as a mentor text, you'll want to follow these four steps. You may want this to be a differentiated lesson.

Writers who struggle to write more basic introductions may need more practice with those before they try out this fairly challenging one. Writers who have mastered the basics could try this out as a new challenge!

Here's a tip for using mentor texts to teach writing strategies:

Every time you read a new book, read it as a reader. When you go back and reread it, put on your "writer's hat" and read it as a writer. Notice the kinds of things the author did and think about why he/she did it that way.

Writing anchor charts for reading like a writer. Help students identify and discuss the writer's craft authors are using so they can apply it to their own writing. It's a fundamental part of Writer's Workshop and using mentor texts!
This will give you opportunities to discuss writing strategies authentically and to help you apply them as you model your own writing.

Step 1: Notice It!

1. Read aloud Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies for fun.

2. When you’re ready to introduce this type of introduction, reread the introduction and say, “I’m noticing that Nicola Davies did something interesting here with her introduction.”

3. Have a discussion with students about the technique she used in the introduction: she asked the reader to imagine something and then asked questions to help them do it.

Step 2: Name It & Explain It!

  • Chart the introduction and title it “Imagine This…”
  • Identify the parts of the introduction:
  1. Tells the reader to imagine they’re in the setting your topic is in.
  2. Ask questions to get the reader’s mind ready to think about the topic.
  3. Introduce your topic.
Anchor charts are really important for giving kids an anchor experience in examining the strategy an author used and applying it to their own writing. Here's the chart I built for this introduction to help kids understand the parts and try it out collaboratively!

Step 3: Teacher Tries It!

Teaching your students creative expository introductions is a lot easier when you use quality mentor texts. This sequence of lessons includes a mentor text, an anchor chart, a guide for you to try writing your own creative introduction, and free printables for students to try out the strategy in their own informational writing. This strategy works for opinion writing, too, and is especially effective for helping 4th graders write their introductory paragraph for STAAR Writing.
1. Choose a topic to write an expository introduction about. 

2. Think aloud as you identify the setting you want to introduce to your reader. For example, if you’re writing about a science topic, you could say, “I’m going to describe the setting that will help my reader visualize the setting for volcanoes. Many are on on a tropical island.” 

3. Write a sentence that tells the reader to imagine they are in that setting.

4. Think aloud about the questions you can ask the reader to get them thinking about this topic. You could say, “To help the reader visualize this topic for themselves, I’m going to ask them questions that will get them thinking about how they would feel if they heard the word, “volcano” while they were on a tropical island.

5. Write a couple of questions that help your reader envision these details.

6. For the last sentence in your introduction, name your topic.

Step 4: Kids Try It!

To help your kids apply this strategy, it's going to be important to give them several opportunities to practice. It's sort of a tricky one! In this handy free download, I include a handout with lots of opportunities for kids to try this strategy out, as well as some possible answers to help you! You can get this free download by entering your email below!. This free download includes...
  • A step-by-step guide to introducing this strategy to students
  • A sample anchor chart
  • A handout for students to try writing several introductions of this type, plus a possible answer key
  • A handout for students to apply this introduction in their own writing
  • Sample introductions written with this strategy for modeling purposes

And it gets even better. You can win a COPY OF THIS BOOK!
Just enter the giveaway below! As you head through the blog hop with the links I share at the bottom of this post, you can enter to win a copy of each book to grow your mentor text collection!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Looking for other great writing mentor text lessons and free resources? Check out the other posts in this link-up from The Reading Crew! You're sure to get TONS of ideas.

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