How-To Writing for 2nd Graders

It's Wednesday, so I'm back with another writing post.  Today's focus is on How-To Writing (some of you might call it Procedural Writing).  Because each class of students is different, the length of time I spend on this writing unit varies greatly from year to year.  About two years ago, I was able to spend 8 weeks on this unit.  Last year, we only spent 3 weeks on it.

For this unit, I start by reading aloud books that model different characteristics of how-to writing.  I do not read every single book below, but these are all great choices:

If you don't have any money left in your teaching budget, look into what is already included in your curriculum.  Our school is fortunate to have a Reading A-Z subscription and there are several choices at different levels.  Our curriculum also has a few choices that aren't my favorites, but they will do in a pinch (or to leave for a guest teacher).  In either case, the following titles are leveled texts available to me which makes them ideal for small groups: 

As I'm reading, I start pointing out and introducing the different text featuresI want my students to use in their own writing.  We begin to create an anchor chart as a class.  This turns into a writing checklist of things I want my students to include in their writing.  Here's one that we developed two years ago (that I have since cleaned up just for you).  My students put these in their writing folders:

Now that we have all of the pieces, we're ready to jump in and begin writing.  When we started it was winter, so I picked a high interest topic for modeling purposes (How to Build a Snowman).  There are so many options for prewrites.  For this prompt I created a bubble map for the materials we would need.  Then I made a 4-box plan with the most basic transition words.  I drew pictures and added key words and details to write about later.

We always use a bubble map for the materials or ingredients we need.  Then when it's time to do a prewrite, they often choose one of the following to draw and write out the steps: 

One of my favorite resources for How-To is made by the talented Tangled Up in Teaching.  It is filled with graphic organizers, writing papers, and THE BEST craftivities.  Obviously we don't use every single one.  In fact, we only use a few and only at the beginning when we are doing shared how-to writing.  However, it remains one of my favorite TpT purchases of all time!

Seriously, you cannot even begin to imagine how excited students get when they have a fun project at the end.  Here are two of the craftivities we have used in the past: 

Since I do a lot of modeling during writing instruction, students can easily fall into patterns and more formulaic writing.  I use writing minilessons along the way to help them improve their word choice.  Two places to do this are with transitions and action words.  These become anchor charts on the walls and then I make printable resources for their writing folders.  This is what we came up with last year: 

In order to increase their independence, we brainstorm a list of topics that my students are "experts" in.  I use the term "experts" very loosely!  After all, these kiddos are second graders, but the word "expert" empowers them!  Here is a list of topics my class came up with a few years ago (typed up just for you):

I hope you were able to gather some new ideas to jump into how-to writing. Are you ready for some freebies?
If you missed out on the other writing posts, no worries.  Click on either of the images to check them out!

1 comment:

Suzy Q said...

Great list of topics...find myself getting in a rut and choosing the same ones all the time. Thanks for sharing!

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