Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teach Kids to Write Paragraphs

Use the Sandwich Paragraph Writing Strategy
How to use the sandwich paragraph writing strategy to help elementary students write complete paragraphs with a topic sentence, details and a closing sentence.

The sandwich paragraph writing strategy utilizes a concrete graphic organizer to help students learn to write a complete paragraph with a topic sentence, details, and a closing sentence. The sandwich visual helps students organize their thoughts by providing them with a formula for writing.

This strategy can be taught as a whole class writing lesson, a writing workshop mini-lesson, or as remediation for those who struggle with writing. The bread in the sandwich represents the topic and closing sentences, while the details are represented as the fillings. While using this strategy, students will construct and deconstruct paragraphs to examine and internalize the process of writing a complete paragraph.

Grade Level
Third grade and above based on ability and needs of the students
The Objectives
·    Students will identify the topic sentence, details, and closing sentence in a paragraph.
·    Students will order sentences in a given paragraph correctly.
·    Students will write a topic sentence and a closing sentence about a chosen subject.
·    Students will write three or more details describing the chosen subject in the topic sentence.
·    Students will write a complete paragraph according to the sandwich paragraph model.

Materials Needed
·    2 white poster boards
·    1 pink poster board
·    1 orange poster board
·    1 green poster board
·    1 red poster board
·    Black marker
·    Multi-colored construction paper
·    Pens or pencils
·    Sandwich bags

Before the Lesson

1.    Using the poster board, draw and cut out the parts of a ham sandwich- two pieces of bread, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato.
2.    On one of the pieces of bread write topic sentence and on the other write closing sentence. Then write the word detail on each of the filings for the sandwich. Tape the large visuals in order to the wall or white board.
3.    Write a six-sentence complete paragraph about a topic of interest to your students, and cut the sentences into strips.
4.    Find two paragraphs in your classroom books that follow the model. Retype the paragraphs on the computer, writing one sentence on each line.
5.    Cut the sentences into strips and place each paragraph in its own baggie. Make enough baggies so that every two students in the class get both paragraphs.

Day 1 Lesson
1.    Talk to the students about eating a sandwich. Discuss how all of the parts of the sandwich work together to make it taste good.
2.    Show students the sandwich visual you made and explain how it relates to writing paragraphs.
3.    Place the sentence strips on the board out of order and have a student read the sentences. Ask if the paragraph sounded right.
4.    Talk aloud your thinking process as you reorder the sentences and match them up with the correct part of the sandwich.
5.    Have a student read the new paragraph and discuss how much easier to read this paragraph is.
6.    Guide students to draw and cut out their own sandwich visual using the construction paper. Tell them to label the parts of the paragraph on the sandwich pieces and store them in a sandwich bag.

Day 2 Lesson
1.    Have the students take out their sandwich bags and review the parts of a complete paragraph.
2.    Pair the students and pass out the sandwich bags with the sentence strips from the first paragraph in it.
3.    Have the pairs identify the topic sentence, closing sentence, and details. Prompt them to recall that the topic sentence and closing sentence say the same thing in a different way and that the details tell about the topic sentence.
4.    Guide them through ordering the sentences and matching them to the correct part of the sandwich model.
5.    Have them identify and order the strips from the second paragraph with their partner.

Day 3 Lesson
1.    Review the sandwich paragraph strategy using the sandwich visuals the students have created.
2.    Assign or allow them to choose topics to write about. Ask them to write a topic and closing sentence for the topic and three or four details relating to the topic sentence.
3.    Have them double-check their work by cutting up their paragraphs and matching to the parts of the sandwich visual.
4.    Invite volunteers to share their complete paragraphs with the class. Display all final products on a sandwich paragraph bulletin board.

How to Teach Narrative Writing to Elementary School Students
Teaching narrative writing is the best way to get elementary school students to begin to develop their writing skills. Through stories, journal entries and other narrative assignments, elementary school students learn how to organize their thoughts and ideas.

Step 1 

Have your students keep all of their writing assignments in a journal. This makes it easier for them to keep track of their compositions and easier for you to evaluate them.
Step 2 
Have them write every day in class. Two pages of double-spaced writing every day is usually a good requirement.
Step 3 
Tie the journal to your literacy program. For example, if you are reading a book together as a class, you can have your students write an alternate ending to the story or write their own predictions for the next chapter.
Step 4 
Assign some more personal assignments. You can have your students tell you about their favorite day, for example, or something they did over the summer.
Step 5
As the students develop their skills, begin to do lessons on what makes a story. Write a few stories as a class, showing the students how to introduce the characters, write the main action and end the story.
Step 6 
Allow the students to do some narrative writing in small groups. Have them first plan out the story by drawing and describing the characters, setting and obstacles. Then have each student write a part of the story.
Step 7 
Put together a book as a class. Allow each student to pick his favorite piece of writing to include in the book. Give a copy out to each student. Make them feel good about themselves and their writing.

Progress, Grade by Grade
It helps to gain perspective on the progress children make in writing by generalizing on how children write at the various grade levels, bearing in mind the wide range of individual differences. Lucy McCormick Calkins, with her wealth of experience in teaching children to write, provides the following descriptions in her book,  

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