This writing across the curriculum lesson was written by WritingFix Webmaster, Corbett Harrison, who thinks this lesson could be easily adapted to work with students in grades 3-12. Corbett's lesson is based on another WritingFix lesson: The Important Thing about Ideas: The Details, which is found on our Picture Book Lesson Collection.
This lesson was proposed to ScienceFix using this template. If you have a science/mentor text lesson you'd like to have published, fill out the template and send it to Yvette Deighton, our ScienceFix Coordinator: YDeighton@washoeschools.net. We'll send you an NNWP Print Publication if we post your lesson here!
Lesson Objective: Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book contains a dozen "Important Book Passages," which are Brown's original structure for looking at items that are important to her. She first says what's most important about an item, then she shares three or four other interesting details, and then she again stresses what's most important. This simple type of passage can be assigned to students so they can show what they have learned about scientific topics.
Writing skills (traits) to stress while teaching this lesson:
- Idea Development (choosing important details, including the most important detail)
- Organization (linking an introduction to a conclusion, and making a thorough paragraph)
- Conventions (using correct spelling, especially of vocabulary words)
- Share several pages of Margaret Wise Brown's The Important Book. Talk to your students about 1) the obvious structure of the passages and 2) the fact that Brown didn't just put any facts down; she chose memorable facts to include in her passages.
- Put the turning ordinary details into extraordinary details page on the overhead. Have students work in pairs or as a whole group to--based on the example--turn the ordinary column's content into extraordinary content.
- Inform students that they will be writing about a scientific topic (this can be teacher-asigned or student free-choice), and their reporting will be done in the form of an important book passage.
- Stress to students, as they create paragraphs, to carefully choose the MOST important detail as their introductory line and their final line. Stress to students that the details between the introduction and the conclusion need to be extraordinary.
- If there's time, have students read each other's rough drafts, checking for spelling and meaning, making suggestions for clearer meaning. These paragaphs tend to improve between rough draft and second draft.
- Assign this format of writing once a week with your science curriculum; with regular use, your students will get better at it, their use of details will improve, and they'll begin to grasp the concept of paragraph better.
Student Samples for this Lesson:
by Dante, fourth grade writer
The most important thing about bats is that they eat nasty pesky mosquitoes. Bats are nocturnal to keep them from furious slobbering danger. Bats use sonar to help them know where they are and so they don’t collide into anything. Bats are as blind as a doorknob so it’s difficult for them to know where they are. They are as black as outer space. But the most important thing about bats is that they eat nasty pesky mosquitoes.
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