An Informative Writing Process YOU Can Teach

Video and blog post on an effective way to teach informative writing K-5
Hello!  I'm thrilled to share this next video with you.  In it, I describe the process I often use to write informative texts with K-5 students.  Though I use my book Stella and Class:  Information Experts to talk through this process, you don't need a copy of the book to benefit.

The four minute video briefly touches on:
  • how I stimulate questioning for informative writing
  • how to keep students focused on specific questions
  • how to chunk the task of investigating questions using sticky notes
  • how to use internet resources to clarify information and spark more thinking
  • how shared writing can be used to develop texts
  • how mentor texts can be used to push pass spots where students are stuck
  • how important it is to keep in mind that the shared work we do with students is aimed at moving them toward independence as writers
Watch the video here.

I thought about writing a post recently highlighting a few simple techniques I use to get students engaged in a topic.  I mention these in the video:  I  use Google images to create quick slideshows of photos depicting what we're studying.  I encourage students to ask questions, comment on their noticings, and look closely to confirm or question information they've learned from text sources.  I also use short video clips (often found on youtube) to show the 'thing' in action.  Sometimes, we watch the video as posted, other times, I turn off the narration and we discuss what we see.  I can't emphasize enough how these two easy techniques bring information to life.  Students SEE and HEAR that what they are studying is REAL.  Media excites them and gets them talking.  If we capitalize on that talk, we can build a lot of thinking and knowledge together, further questioning, then further investigating in a focused way.  

In a third grade class recently, we were reading an informational text about endangered whooping cranes.  The students were interested, but when I showed them this video, the information came to life.  Seeing the whooping cranes in action, watching them flap their mighty wings, hearing how people cared for the birds and took several complicated steps to help the species survive took these third graders' interest levels to new heights.  We decided to write about the problem and the solution based on what we'd learned from the text and the video.  Then, we went into another third grade classroom, showed the video and shared our writing. We debriefed about how they could replicate this experience in their own research in the future.  

If you'd like to read more, I've thoroughly addressed these teaching methods in a K-2 context here.  

As always, I invite your comments and questions!

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