Hooked on Writing December: How-to Writing

Teaching how-to writing is a great way to enable students to think through the steps of something and record those steps in writing. Being able to explain something, that carefully helps the writer think like a reader, is a great pre-curser to writing anything else. Hooked on Writing December uses 4 mentor texts to help students work through the "how-to" process.

Here's a look at the pacing guide.  Since December might be short for some of you, you could choose to do only some of these lessons or do two in a day, one in the am and one in the pm.

Of course, as always this unit starts out with tips, ideas and mini anchor charts to help you get started. There are mini posters on adjectives and adverbs, paragraph power and a tip page. Each book contains vocabulary cards to enrich your lessons.

The Plot Chickens is the text that starts this unit off this month. It is a really funny book that kids love.

The Plot Chickens is about a chicken that loves to read and then decides to write her own book.  Here friends tell her all the things a good book must have in it. This is a great way to review story elements and extend the initial learning from previous units.  There are extension lessons for beginning, middle and end as well as plays on words with adjectives and adverbs.

The second book, Meanwhile, is a student favorite - especially boys!  

All it takes is a little teacher reading glitter and you've got them hooked.   This book teaches the power of just one word - meanwhile.  It is a great introduction to using adverbs (technically conjuctive adverbs here.)  This story is about Raymond. His mom calls and calls him but he is busy reading his comic.  Comic books always use the word meanwhile to change scenes. What a great idea!  Raymond writes meanwhile on his wall and ends up inside a harrowing tale. "Meanwhile" always gets him out of situations until it doesn't. Unfortunately, Raymond must use "The End" and then he is back at home where his awaiting Mom wants him to do chores.  Students will learn all about paragraphs while using ideas from this book to help them.  There is a paragraph writing rubric to help guide students in their writing and also give them a tool to use for self assessment.

As we practice paragraph writing and using adjectives and adverbs, students are building a repertoire of skills in preparation for the more specific "how-to" writing. Our next book, Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude is the perfect book to demonstrate different kinds of ways an author can organize a book.

This story begins with two students (a boy and a girl) who have to create a story together.   The girl begin by telling about a princess and the boy interjects and introduces a cool motorcycle dude.  My students LOVE this book.  As the story progresses it's a bit of a power struggle of stereotypes.  I explain to students it's a story within a story. Some of the lessons students will be involved in are: creating a T chart of events, drama activities acting out the story, practicing paragraph writing from the previous week and writing a paragraph on their favorite part of the story, and using humor to write "How to be a princess" or "How to be a Cool Motorcycle Dude" using order words and adjectives/adverbs. There is a "How-to" rubric for students to follow and use as a self assessment.

The last book in this December Hooked on Writing set is a Christmas book.  The Christmas Wish is rich with description and picture and is a great example of adventure.

The Christmas Wish has real pictures of a little girl named Anya who wishes to see Santa. She is very responsible and looks after everything before she goes including looking after some things for her neighbor. Anya goes on an incredible journey with the help of animals to get her to the North Pole.   in this week, students will put everything they have learned in this unit together. There are lessons on adjectives for effect, creating a wordless story, and using those pictures to choose a how-to topic for writing.

I hope you and your students enjoy this unit as much as I enjoyed creating it!

Hooked on Writing Year Long Unit is now available. Click here to see more.

There is also a year long overview you can view here.


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