Last semester, our school had Cheryl Ware (author) visit our school. While visiting, she was kind enough to meet with each grade level and do a presentation on writing. Lucky for me, she was giving her presentations in my room! I learned lots, and so did the kids! One resource Cheryl brought was a graphic organizer that looked similar to the one I created below.
It may not look like much, but those two little hands can open up a whole new world of writing to your students. Since her visit, the 4th grade teachers I work with have been incorporating this graphic organizer anytime the students are going to be writing. At first, they did a few together as a class, and now the students complete it independently. After they complete it, they work with partners to see what other details can be added. It’s great for writer’s workshop! Not only do the students enjoy completing this activity, they complete it with ease in creativity versus the usual “I don’t know what to write – writer’s block.”
This resource helps students expand their writing by not only including the general 5 “W” questions, but being more descriptive with their senses.

Say the prompt is the dreaded “Write about what you did on your summer break.” Most kids want to respond with the general “I went swimming. I played outside. I went to the beach with my family. BORING! BORING! Blaaaaah!”

Here is an example of what someone could come up with when using this type of graphic organizer. I forgot to take pics of all my student examples at school — SORRY!

WHO- Me, my family, our neighbors, my best friend, our dog
WHAT- Went on vacation

WHERE- Beach, St. Thomas, VII

WHEN- Summer 2012, First week of July
WHY- No school, parents had time off, annual trip, we go every year
HOW- flew in a plane, cruise, roadtrip

SEE- bright sun, clear ocean water, bright colored flowers, scaly lizards, fancy hotels, native people, sailboats, cruise ships, seafood restaurants, beach balls and towels

HEAR- waves, breeze, birds, live music
SMELL- salt water, fresh air, fish
TASTE- fresh seafood, tropical drinks
TOUCH- gritty hot sand, rough coral reef, smooth warm ocean water, seashells, seaweed, hot blistering sun
FEEL- happy, relaxed, excited, worry-free

To introduce this graphic organizer to your students for writing purposes, read a very descriptive picture book first, and then have the students identify all the details of the story using this resource. You can even use the book to set the students up for writing by having them write a pre-quel, alternative conclusion, or their own connection to the story.

One of my favorite books to use for writing is The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant because MOST {key word=most} students can relate to having relatives come visit for a short or long period of time and can write about when their relatives came.

Another important thing – Discuss how when they are writing, THEY are the author and it is THEIR responsibility to describe all the details so the reader can “picture” the story in his or her minds.

This graphic organizer has honestly done WONDERS for not only the entire 4th grade at my school, but my special education babies who struggle so terribly with writing. It’s great for any grade level! Best part – it’s so easy for them to remember this in their heads, even when the graphic organizer is not preset {HELLO dreaded writing assessment!}

It’s HUMP day! Enjoy your evenings – the weekend’s almost here!

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  1. outbound training on August 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

    This is my first opportunity to visit this website. I found some interesting things and I will apply to the development of my blog. Thanks for sharing useful information.

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