Guiding Writers to Show Rather Than Tell in Narratives
The teacher will make a list of times that they felt scared. As the teacher creates the list, they'll think aloud why they're placing certain items on the list. After compiling a list of approximately 5-6 experiences, the teacher will continue to think aloud as they "star" an experience they'd like to write about.
Students will discuss, in groups or pairs, times that they've been scared. After discussion (and during), students will generate their own lists. After 5 minutes or so of discussion time, the teacher may ask for a quick share around the room before students "star" an experience to write about. This quick share aloud often has the effect of jogging memories for students who may be stuck.
The teacher will draft their narrative about a scary experience on chart paper for the whole class, keeping in mind that this draft should contain some telling sentences (e.g. "I was so scared!").
After seeing the teacher model their narrative, students will compose their drafts about a scary experience.
The teacher will create a chart with the heading: Scared. Underneath that, the teacher will write the subheadings: Looks Like, Sounds Like, and Feels Like. The teacher will provide a couple of examples and write them on the chart. "When I'm scared, it might look like I'm trembling." The teacher will simply write "trembling" on the chart.
Students will contribute ideas to the "Looks Like, Sounds Like, and Feels Like" chart, and may be creating their own chart for reference in their writing notebooks.
4 Direct Instruction
The teacher will present the LearnZillion lesson on describing a character's feelings to the whole class:
Students will watch the video lesson.
5 Guided Practice/Revision/Conferencing
After the presentation of the lesson, the teacher will think aloud as he/she revises their own draft based on the instruction in the video. "Here I wrote that I was scared, but I think I'm going to replace scared with a statement showing the reader what I was feeling. I'm going to look back at our Scared chart and see if any of those ideas match how I was feeling at this time. I think I'll write that I began to tremble and my knees became weak."
Using the information gained from the video and the teacher think-aloud revision, students will locate a telling statement to revise in their draft about a scary experience. Some students may be able to peer revise, others may require revision discussion in a teacher-led conference. Once they've located a telling statement, students will replace it with a showing statement using the information the class has recorded on the "Scared" chart.
6 Independent Practice
Through continued conferencing, and subsequent mini-lessons, the teacher will continue to guide students toward including more showing statements in their writing. Emotion charts are a valuable tool in this regard, and students can even begin to generate their own charts in their writing notebooks. Including "Did I show instead of tell where appropriate?" in the students' revision checklist from this point on is advisable.
Students will continue to look for opportunities in their writing in which they can show rather than tell. After it's included in their revision checklist, students should make a point to look for such opportunities.
Key Standards Supported
Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.