Something I am CONSTANTLY struggling with as a teacher is asking my students to ADD MORE DETAIL and to BE MORE DESCRIPTIVE in their writing. As we begin the school year, my students have had many opportunities to write. While reviewing some of my student's initial writing samples, I noticed many students were off to a great start with their organization and structure. However, after reading and listening to their writing, I KNEW it was time to jump head first into adding DETAILS. Why? I couldn't HELP but notice my student's LACK of detail. This seems to be a common problem EVERY year!
Time to connect and communicate with the students! During our writing time, I conferenced with students using a WRITING ANECDOTAL CHART that I made. During this time, students were rereading their paragraphs and telling me how they thought they could make their writing BETTER. I was also discussing the notes that I had left with each student. Here is a picture:
Since we are working on a novel study right now (AND focusing on character traits) I knew that I would need to FRONT LOAD unique vocabulary to the kids. In the past I would hand them the dreaded thesaurus and it JUST DIDN'T WORK!!! Many times when a student uses a thesaurus they choose words OUT of context and their writing just DOESN'T make sense.
I had students pair up and choose either Claudia or James from the novel, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I had the students make decisions TOGETHER about the character traits. If they felt that the character displayed any aspect of the word whatsoever, they highlighted the character trait. This went GREAT because the students were in HEAVY discussions about all of the different words. Here is a look at the words they highlighted (Character Traits List from my WORD LISTS pack!)
NEXT, students chose 3 character traits which they felt reflected their character the MOST. They also had to choose traits that they would be able to find the STRONGEST evidence for! Following that, students used the paragraph template seen below (CLICK on the picture below to download) to form paragraphs describing the character's traits. I had students attach post it notes (THANKS to the Dollar Store!) because they needed MORE room to write about their character traits/evidence to support that trait.
If anything, Post It Notes just make things more exciting! See how this student below was able to add evidence to each character trait through quoting the author from the story. So exciting!
I was floored by some of the students responses and the Post It Notes really provided a GREAT scaffold for students that needed that EXTRA visual to organize their paragraphs!
They came up with OUTSTANDING evidence. This is something we will be practicing ALL year! If you haven't already, download the paragraph template by clicking on the picture BELOW to give this a try with your students!
How do you teach students to add details and incorporate evidence into their writing?