Highlights How-to Article:
My article, A Cool Trick YOU Can Teach Your Dog, appeared in the August 2012 Highlights Children's Magazine.
This is a great model to share when introducing "How-to" writing. My article describes the steps needed to teach your dog how to jump through a hula-hoop. You can guide students through the following exercise:
1. Have students think of something interesting they could teach others to do. (It can be something they already know how to do, such as how to do a cartwheel or how to make pizza. You could also have them research how to do something they don't already know how to do.)
2. Have students pair up and orally describe how to do the task. Have the listening partner repeat back the steps for clarification. This will allow the first person to know if they were understood or need more clarification. Let the second person do the same.
3. Have students go back to work independently on drafting the steps in their processes.
4. Have students pair up with a different partner to share their drafts. Check for clarification.
5. Students can then transition their steps into a narrative by including an introduction and conclusion. They can even turn the steps themselves into narrative form if they want to expand on the steps and have each become its own paragraph, depending on the age of the writer.
6. When students are finished, allow them to share their writing with a partner, small group, or the whole class.
7. Another alternative to writing a how-to is to do it demonstration-style through a video students create in class or at home to share.
(Depending on your grade level and students' experience with "how-to" writing, this lesson could be one writing period or a week-long activity.
This lesson covers many of the Common Core Standards for Writing and Speaking and Listening.
For first grade: W.1.2, W.1.5 - W.1.7, SL1.1 - SL 1.3
For second grade: W.2.3, W.2.5, W.2.6, SL.2.1 - SL.2.3
For third grade: W.3.2 - W.3.6, SL.3.1, SL.3.3, SL.3.4
For fourth grade: W.4.2-W.4.6, SL.4.1 - SL.4.4
For fifth grade: W.5.2 - W.5.6, SL.5.1 - SL.5.4