If you are starting a unit of study on procedure writing, there is power in sharing mentor texts with your students – through read alouds, during reading/writing workshop mini-lessons, through access to bins of these books in the class library. Teaching for understanding of procedure writing falls under the Common Core Reading Standards for Informational Text #2 (identify the main topic and retell key details in a text) and Writing Standards #2 (write informative/explanatory texts…).
How to Make Bubbles (Shores, 2011) is a title from a newer series by Pebble Plus that I like because the organization, layout and design of each page is appropriate for emergent and early readers. There is a clear, brief intro that pulls the reader into the ideas in the text and the materials list includes pictures of each material – which supports not only young readers but our ELL students as well. Each page that describes the procedures has nicely spaced text (space between words and between lines) and not too much text and there is a full page picture that makes clear the step being taken. At the end there is an explanation of the scientific concept with the subtitle “How does it work?” My only criticism would be that the steps are not subtitled – “step 1,” “step 2” and so forth. I think this should be part of your discussion with students when they critique the book and it would be easy enough to “revise” the book with students by adding sticky notes with “step 1” and so forth. Or not!
When you’re looking for texts to read aloud, to share, to include in your class library, a good source is your public library. I found this title at the Glen Ellyn Public Library along with four other titles from the same series.
Another source of mentor texts to share with students is examples of their own writing – or other students writing. Put examples on the document camera for shared reading or reading aloud and then for discussion. Ask students “What do you notice about this writer’s piece?” and “What do you notice that you might need to include in your own writing?” To start you might pull examples of student procedure writing from professional texts you might already have in your building like Reading and Writing Grade by Grade (New Standards, 1999 – there is a newer edition 2008) or from Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study for Primary Writing, Book 6 Nonfiction Writing: Procedures and Reports. If you don’t have these, in just a few minutes of searching on-line I found these writing samples from the Board of Studies New South Wales; scroll down to page 15 and you’ll see a title page “writing procedure” and then follows is several examples of students’ writing.
Okay…I hope to blog Part 2 of my thoughts on procedure writing in the primary grades soon. I’m working with a team of first grade teachers and we are tackling a four week unit of study on procedure writing during writing workshop. More soon!