Lesson Plan

Guiding Writers to Show Rather Than Tell in Narratives

Many young writers lack details that show the reader their characters' feelings. The goal of this app flow is to address this issue. It's worth noting that this app flow would take place over a period of 2-3 Writers' Workshop sessions.
Sally R.
Classroom teacher
Leontine Gracey Elementary School
Merced, United States
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My Grades 2
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will identify the difference between telling statements and showing statements. Students will be able to locate telling statements in an existing narrative draft and revise accordingly.

English Language Arts
Grades 2 – 3
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Pre-Writing

Activity: Conversing

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.

Student Instructions

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. 

2 Drafting

Activity: Creating

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!").

Student Instructions

After seeing the teacher model their narrative, students will compose their drafts about a scary experience.  

3 Mini-Lesson

Activity: Exploring

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.  

Student Instructions

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: 



Student Instructions

Students will watch the video lesson.

5 Guided Practice/Revision/Conferencing

Activity: Creating

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." 

Student Instructions

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

Activity: Creating

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.

Student Instructions

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.