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adding details to writing
Old 04-22-2012, 12:28 PM
 
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Hello!

I am noticing, as I am conferencing more and more with my students, that a lot of them do not add details to their writing. Many times, their writing often reads something like:

"I went to the park"
"I played basketball"
"I went home"

Then of course it's always "I'm done!" which gets very frustrating as I've taught the lesson on what to do next when you think you're done, multiple times.

I want to try to teach a mini lesson on adding details to writing and how to recognize where you might need to add details. The problem is, I'm having trouble deciding how I would explain something like that. My students are very concrete and they do best when there is explicit instruction.

How do you explain to your firsties how to add details?

kp


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prepositional phrases
Old 04-22-2012, 02:05 PM
 
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We cover prepositional phrases in our reading series so it helps when I remind them that they need details. I tell them that they need to add prepositional phrases that tell where and/or when. Ex: I went to the park near the school on Saturday. I also tell them not to always start with I but try starting with the prepositional phrase. Ex: On Saturday afternoon I went to the park near the school.
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Juicy writing
Old 04-22-2012, 03:45 PM
 
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Last week I read two children's work to the rest of the class and had them vote on which sounded the most interesting. (I told that the writer's would be a secret). Every student voted for the writing that included rich details. We then discussed what made this writing okay. I read the bare bones writing again and asked what we could add to make it better. My moderate and advanced writers could not wait to add details to their writing.

Of course, so much of our time has been spent writing to task to meet Common Core goals. This week I also got them started on writing a story with characters and setting and an adventure. This opportunity to be creative has really helped them to expand their ideas.
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Old 04-22-2012, 04:07 PM
 
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Our children first learned to add details in October. We started them by adding details to descriptive writing, which is the easiest writing, so that by the time we got into the more creative writing, they were already accustomed to it. One of the first things we let them know is that the details help to add a picture in the mind to a writing.

I told them to pretend that I was a student and I wrote the sentence "I have a dog". I then told the children to draw a picture of a dog. We all showed each other, and their picture was completely different than mine. We discussed why- which is that I didn't tell anyone any details to help them know more of "what kind".


One of the mini activities I did was to give them a piece of playdough in a color, and had them shape it into a subject (cat, pizza, dinosaur, snake...). They then had to write what it was (this is my dinosaur). Then then had to draw a picture of their item, in pencil. They couldn't add color because it wasn't in their writing. Then they had to write about the color. If they wanted to add playdoh stripes of a different color (for example), they had to write the details first and then they received the details for their creation. Their writing had to match their piece.

Then, we use Kagan structures, and I did a numbered heads for "boring" and wow sentences. Basically you would have two sentences: A. I played basketball. B. I played the basketball and made full court shot! My friends cheered for me! The children had to write "A" or "B" on their whiteboards for which was the better sentence(s) about the subject.

When we got into story writing, I created two versions of the same story- one more boring, and one with details. I then cut up each part (it had transitional words) in each story, put them in a bag, and they children by groups had to put together the two stories.
Boring example: One day Jenny slipped in the cafeteria. First, her lunchbox flew across the floor. Then, it popped open. Next, her thermos flew out and broke apart. Finally, all of the food inside dumped on the floor. That was what happened what Jenny slipped in the cafeteria.
WOW example: One day Jenny slipped in the cafeteria. First, her lunchbox flew across the floor. It went as fast as a rocket! Watch out kids- out-of-control lunchbox coming through! Then, it popped open. Oh no, I wonder what will happen next? Next, her thermos flew out and broke apart. Uh oh, spaghettios! Seriously, she had spaghettios in there...well, she DID have spaghettios in there. Finally, all of the food inside dumped on the floor. There went her sandwich, goldfish, and banana! Now we have to make sure no one slips on the banana peel or there will be another accident! That was what happened when Jenny slipped in the cafeteria.

(That wasn't the story, but you get the idea). I'm writing this from home, and all of my mini-activities are at school, so sorry there's not more!
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Peer editing
Old 04-23-2012, 01:38 PM
 
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We do a lot of partner work in my classroom of Writers Workshop. I begin my mini-lesson with a simple few sentences such as, "Last night my neighbor's brought me a cake. It tasted good." We've spent enough time talking about great authors that my class doesn't hesitate to tell me that's too boring. So I invite them to ask me questions, as in "What are you wondering?" They wonder EVERYTHING -- WHY did they bring me a cake? What kind of cake? Did I share it with my husband/kids? As they ask, I insert carat marks, etc. to show them how to revise. We do a quite a few lessons with THEM asking ME questions, which in turn shows them that by adding those details to answer them, my writing becomes more interesting and complete.
Then when we move into their writing, we practice "polite interrupting." It's great when visitors to my room hear my first graders interrupt their writing partners with, "Excuse me -- can you tell me more about _______?" Or, "Excuse me, but who did you go to the zoo WITH? Or "Excuse me, can you tell me more about the elephants and what they were doing?"
At this age, it's always easier for them to spot what's missing in someone ELSE's writing than their own. So I think giving them that gradual release of responsibility (I do, we do, you try, you do) is huge -- and with a TON of we do/you try, they'll eventually get to the "You do" and recognize it on their own.


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Writing
Old 04-24-2012, 05:28 PM
 
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I use simple pictures to get my students to write a 5 sentence story (3 details)

Sun-Opening that begins with One day and tells who and where
Puzzle Piece-
Puzzle Piece-
Puzzle Piece- the students have to use 3 puzzle pieces (details telling what is happening)
They use transitional words First, Next, Last
Heart-they end the story by telling how the characters are feeling at the end
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yes!
Old 04-25-2012, 02:28 PM
 
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Now that is something I can definitely use! Thank you!
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Adding Details
Old 04-25-2012, 05:00 PM
 
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I think you have to model several times how you add details. Write a story like the one you mentioned above. Then show them how you add details.

We make a chart that hangs up in our room:
Adding Details
1. Tell where/when/time
2. Tell feelings
3. Tell who
4. Tell color, size, shape
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details
Old 04-25-2012, 05:31 PM
 
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I suggest you find a copy of one of Lucy Calkins Units of Study (Small Moments) or Stephanie Parsons First Grade Writers. They know how to teach developmentally appropriate writing. The Rose Room here on PT is dedicated to UofS.

They explain exactly how to teach adding details. Instead of the OP's example of "I went to the park," "I played basketball," and "I went home," a "Small Moment" is exactly that, one small moment in time. By doing lots of modeling, children will start writing the most amazing stories with lots of detail.

By the end of the school year half of my students would write something like:
"I played basketball in the park on Sunday. It was hot that day. A ladybug landed on my ball. The lady bug was red with black spots. I did not want to hurt it so I put it on a smooth leaf. It flew away into the sky. Then I kept playing."

The formula approach of topic sentence, 3 details, conclusion, and using First, Next, Last may work for some, but you get every child writing in the same format. I saw enough of that when scoring writing for the district. Wisely, after several years of that kind of writing, the district got away from the lock-step formula.

Last edited by cvt; 04-25-2012 at 06:57 PM.. Reason: typo
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Details:
Old 04-27-2012, 08:07 PM
 
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If you are looking to elicit more details from now until the end of the year, I agree with the simple pictures approach. A coworker of mine is doing test prep (4th grade) and she gave out stickers for every step that they had to use in their writing. She used them almost like a rubric. She had six stickers on a strip for each child. They had to use the stickers like a checklist and when they were done writing they gave stickers to each step taken, they came back with any left over stickers and had to tell what they were missing in their story to not get all six. I also know of a first grade teacher who uses the same sticker concept with unifix cubes.

I like anchor papers. I try to use them every other week (lately not so much-testing) and as a whole class we focus on one great thing the author did and one way to make the piece even better. I try to use a student from the other first grade class, b/c my students have a hard time remaining annonymous

I also introduced details with several good books and then I made up a poster with a plain pizza and one with pizzaz (the works). After reading sev. books with good details, I told st. that I didn't want anymore "plain pizza" stories. I wanted to see "pizzaz pizza" stories. When someone had great pizazz, I put up a student sample on a sentence strip on our Witing Trait wall under the pizza poster pictures. Then anyone that I have seen give good details got a label sticker. See attached.

I have more labels and such if you are interested. This is the first time I have attached anything and I see I can only attach one item at a time???
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