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Chartchums Persuasive Essays

Chartchums

byStacey Shubitz

Kristi Mraz, one of my instructors from this past summer’s Writing Institute at Teachers College, and Marjorie Martinelli just started a blog called Chartchums: Creative Classroom Charts.  I’ve reviewed the first few posts on the blog and I’m certain it is going to be an incredible resource for workshop teachers who want to ensure that charts are useful learning tools for students.  The site already has a few examples of charts you can create with your students in the first few days of the school year, as well as information about chart-making supplies.  (BTW: The post on chart-making supplies mentions a restickable glue stick, which I first heard about during Kristi’s class.  It’s a useful tool.  Essentially it turns any piece of paper into a sticky note.  How fabulous is that?!!?)

Kristi and Marjorie plan to update Chartchums once a week, on Mondays, with timely posts about creating charts.  So, happy browsing!

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March Matters

Posted: March 11, 2012| Author:chartchums|Filed under:Uncategorized | Tags:annotated charts, Depth of Knowledge, DOK, persuasive, reviews|

March is a month that matters for many reasons. For many it is a time of assessing, writing report cards, arranging parent-teacher conferences, and organizing open school week. It is one of the longest months with 22 schools days without even a single three-day weekend. But March is also one of the most fulfilling months because this is the time of year we begin to see our young students flower. They seem to grow overnight. Not only are they taller, but things seem to start clicking and all your efforts finally seem to be paying off. With this new maturity comes new expectations, both for our children and for our charts. March matters.

Charts make our teaching visible, but how can we make sure our charts grow and change across the year as our children grow and change? A recent workshop on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) presented by the brilliant Janet Steinberg got us thinking about ways we can grow our charts, extend their usage, and deepen the level of teaching and learning. In a nutshell, the four levels are: 1. Recall, name & define. 2. Notice, describe, & explain. 3. Apply, analyze & evaluate. 4. Synthesize, reflect & modify. Let’s take a closer look at how this might play out when it comes to charts.

A typical chart found in the classroom is a list of strategies. For example, a list of things to include in a persuasive review. The chart below names things reviews often have and the children are expected to use the chart to remember these points when they write their own reviews. The chart tells them what to do. These characteristics make this type of chart a DOK level one.

This chart gives a big picture overview of what a “rave review” often includes.

This is the chart under the poster used to launch the unit. "Critics review things that are interesting & memorable."

One way to make this chart a DOK level two is to add in the why and the how.  We don’t just say it and name it, we show the steps or how to do it. Many charts found in classrooms are procedural charts. You can see in the example below how the chart is growing and becoming more specific as the review unit proceeded. So next to the statement, “Hook the reader,” the teacher has added two ways to hook the reader and why they might work. One is, “Make a strong statement to get attention,” and the other is “Ask a question to get readers curious.” The “Describe it” statement is elaborated by reminding children of what they know from previous units, to use one’s senses when describing something. “State your opinion” is broken down into “Pros” and “Cons” and both have steps for coming up with pros and cons. For example, under “Pros” it lists the steps as: 1. Think about things you like. 2. Find some examples. 3. Say why you like each one. Compare and contrast is similarly broken down into steps. On the original chart there was no mention of either why a writer would do these things, nor how to do them. The final bullet tells the student to “Give a rating.” The revision includes the why…so people can quickly see your opinion, and an example showing three stars for great, two stars for okay, and one star for so-so.

This chart is growing as the teacher adds in the why and breaks down each part into steps.

This is a close up of the large post its containing the why and the how that were added to the original review chart.

This is another close-up of the post-its added to the chart with the why and the how.

Wondering how this chart could get any better? Try adding a kid’s example and ask the child to discuss what she has done to write her review. Then annotate all the ways the child is using what has been taught. The chart below shows a photo copy of one child’s review with the annotations created during one such discussion. The descriptors come from the chart above and each one is color coded to make each craft move distinct and clear and a model for others to use when writing their reviews. Ultimately, it is the discussion, the explanation, and the giving of reasons that encourages deeper thinking and understanding that leads to a DOK level three.

This is a photocopy of a child's review that has been marked up and names all the child did as a review writer.

Our charts contain all that we have modeled and demonstrated and help remind children of what we have taught as they practice on many pieces over many days. But our charts are strengthened when we have many discussions about what is on them, what is added to them, and what is deleted from them. To further grow the purpose and use of these charts in a way that moves them towards a DOK level four, would be to have children to use them to  reflect on their own writing, to mark up their own writing in a similar way as the example above shows, and to encourage them to take risks, make modifications, try something new, and even create their own charts that are customized to their needs and desires. They could also extend what they have learned during this review unit to social studies, science, reading, and mathematics, thinking about hooks, opinions, pros and cons, to just name a few.

We would like to thank Janet for pushing our thinking, along with Natalie Louis and Mary Ann Colbert who always ask the most thought provoking questions. We never cease to be amazed by what there is still to learn about classroom charts and we love that we are learning, not only alongside you, but from you as well. Keep sending us your ideas, your questions, and pictures of your charts.

Until next time, Happy Charting!

Marjorie Martinelli & Kristine Mraz


Featured Teacher Feature

Posted: March 4, 2012| Author:chartchums|Filed under:Uncategorized | Tags:character, charts, inference, monitoring for meaning, reading partners, reading workshop|

For those of you who had a February break, we hope you are feeling rested and ready for March. For those of you that didn’t… HANG IN THERE! April is just around the corner, or maybe down the corner and a little further down the street.We hope this week’s post gives you a jolt of energy as many of you are moving into character units.

This week on chartchums we are going to examine the great teaching and charting work of a first grade teacher: Molly Hobbs. Molly is a teacher at the Taipei American School in Taiwan. Walking into her classroom feels a lot like walking into a warm hug. Besides maintaining a lovely environment of respect and kindness, her students have reading workshop routines down pat, baggies exploding full of books, and a great love of books. When I first worked with Molly, she expressed concern around student comprehension. She felt, as many first grade teachers do, that students were so focused on reading the words RIGHT, that they were not doing the thinking work that truly defines reading.

Now, one month later, the class has just completed a unit on character, which Molly adapted to address the comprehension needs of her readers.

The Charts:

A chart to support readers in thinking about characters

A chart to support partners

A chart to support readers in using clues

A chart to support readers stuck on tricky words

Some Take-Aways:

Goals:

Charts are an easy and supportive way to let children in on the big goals of the unit. Oftentimes the headings name out the big goals. In this unit you can see that Molly had three big goals for her students, renamed in child- friendly ways.

Child friendly heading: We can read like movie stars- think about the character, use clues from the text

Reading Goal: Use clues from the text to infer about your character as you read

Child friendly heading: How do partners talk about books?

Reading Goal: Develop higher level comprehension and conversation skills through partner time

Child friendly heading: I’m confused…now what?

     Reading Goal: Readers monitor for meaning and get themselves out of trouble spots

As Molly moves away from this unit, she might take small photos of specific charts and give them a to a few readers who need to continue working on that goal. Perhaps a few children need to continue to monitor, and others need to work on inferential thinking. The small photo can go right in or on their baggy as a reminder of the work they must do as readers.

In some schools teachers are required to post student names and the goals they are working on. A more flexible and easy way to do that is to have children put their names on post-its and then place them on the charts that have the strategy they are really focusing on for a period of time.

Accessibility:

Molly’s charts underscore a few of the key components in making charts accessible for all students.

Language

The language on the charts is very simple, even though the concepts are not. She uses very simple language on each chart, many of which are common sight words. For example: “read on” or “use the cover”

Visuals

Molly uses a combination of lovely visuals on her charts. One thing she has done particularly well is integrate them with the words to create more meaning. The speech bubble that says “read out loud” both states the strategy and shows it through the use of the speech bubble.

Molly has also effectively used well known texts on these charts: the Elephant and Piggy series by Mo Willems is a perfect example of how characters can act the same across books. Molly also knows this series is near the reading level of many of her students.

Finally, some visuals are provided by the students. If you look closely at the tag words you will see that students have posted some of the tag words they have found in their texts, like whispered, asked, and screamed, to name a few.

Clarity

Molly has done a beautiful job of keeping the charts attractive without becoming busy. She has even split up one goal into two charts to ensure students are not overwhelmed when they look at the charts. She uses color effectively to isolate and identify different strategies. Additionally, all the visuals and language are in the service of the students and the work they need to do. It is easy to get carried away with just one more color, or one more picture, or one more SOMETHING, but Molly has struck the perfect balance between attractiveness and useability.

Roadmap of the Unit:

At the end of a unit, the charts you have created with your students should serve as a roadmap for the hard work of the past 4-6 weeks. We can see the smart teaching Molly has brought to her students through this unit on character. The students now have more strategies for inferential thinking, working at higher levels with partners, and monitoring for meaning. Because her students had been so focused on word solving, Molly chose not to highlight that aspect of reading in this unit. Next year’s class may work in an entirely different way, which is why at the end of this year Molly will keep photos, but let go of the actual charts. To use them again would sculpt the class to the teaching, rather than the teaching being formed by the class.

Thanks to Molly for opening her classroom doors and for being such an inspiring kind spirit, and thanks to everyone for sending your love and support to us for the past 6 months! Some of you have been asking for updates on the chart book we are working on, and so we are happy to tell you the manuscript for Smarter Charts is now done! We will keep you posted with details as they come in.

We will see you again next week, until then: Happy charting!

Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz


Charts as Models and Mentors

Posted: February 13, 2012| Author:chartchums|Filed under:Uncategorized | Tags:charts, mentors, post-its|

In the Italian preprimary schools in the Reggio Emilia district of Italy, the environment is considered the third educator, alongside the teachers and the parents. They have successfully shown that what surrounds our children becomes influential models, whether they are the teachers, the parents, or the environment. The charts that are hanging in each of our classrooms are an integral part of this environment, which can have a powerful effect on children. Charts not only record our teaching, but they are powerful models for children to look towards and mentor themselves to in order to do what they are trying to do even better.

Models and mentors are a valuable asset when it comes to learning something new. They become even more valuable when it comes to learning how to do something even better. We often think about “mentor authors” when teaching revision and craft in writing on the way towards publishing and reaching a targeted audience. But mentors and models are useful no matter what it is you are trying to make better, whether improving one’s writing or learning how to improve one’s home decorating skills. Donald Crews and HGTV have one thing in common – they both provide models that not only inspire, but seem accessible and do-able.

But models and mentors can provide a vision and a pathway no matter the subject. Today’s post focuses on a small, but often annoying tool children are often asked to use to hold onto their thinking while reading: the post-it note. We have heard many a teacher lament that these small tools are being poorly used and not very helpful as a result. They find more post-its on the floor than in the children’s books. Rather than encourage intricate, thoughtful thinking, they are often used to demonstrate intricate origami folding patterns that have nothing to do with reading.

One resourceful and thoughtful teacher in the Bronx, Kathleen Snyder at PS 157, decided to explore this universal dilemma by thinking about why her kids had random post-its scattered everywhere, throughout their books and everywhere else. She started by asking, “Why do you use post-it notes?” and “How did you decide what to write on the post-it note?” What she discovered was that many children understood the post-its were to be used to record important places in their books, but they were less sure about what to actually write on the post-it. Together we decided to come up with some model post-its that would act as mentors that would support the children by showing them examples of what to write and to encourage them to write even better notes about their reading by providing a continuum of possible notes.

This chart is set up like a rubric and shows a progression of Post-it examples and specifically names what has been done under each post-it.

If we consider a possible progression, the first might be using symbols to mark thinking without any writing. You might ask, What can you draw to show how the character is feeling? Then, you can move towards the use of general words to describe feelings or facts. For example, you might ask, What is a word for that feeling? Have you ever felt that way? 

Using a picture plus moving to general words to describe feelings

The next step is to elaborate on this basic thinking by using more specific words along with examples or reasons. At this stage we want to encourage children to ask lots of why and how questions.

This model post-it shows that readers not only state a fact (he is sad), but they add a because (he lost his dog).

The next stage is to expand on the literal explanation for how a character might feel to adding in not only the why, but what else might happen, support this thinking with examples from the text, and talk about what has changed.

Moving to more specific words with reasons or evidence.

Ultimately we want to show children how they can use all they have learned and accumulated as they read forward in a book to make better predictions and even more interesting interpretations. Synthesizing and summarizing helps children realize there is more to reading than just figuring out random words.

This post-it models how readers think about cause and effect and also include supporting details.

Post-its are only a tool. They are not the end all reason for using them. They are actually a very concrete way to introduce young children to the concept of note taking and keeping track of thinking. The thinking is key. What makes the last post-it more powerful than the first one is it begins to answer some open-ended questions that encourage thinking. What, why, and how are great question starters that can launch further investigations. But how exactly to capture the thinking and ideas in a way that is efficient and helpful requires models children can mentor themselves to in order to make sure they have have a structure to follow and, ultimately, to move beyond.

A first step is providing models and mentors for the basic tools that will later become critical as children begin to internalize the external models they have been immersed in and influenced by the third teacher – the environment. Even something as simple as a jot on a post-it note needs to be modeled and the model displayed for children to refer to just like they refer to a mentor text to craft their writing. The charts we create have a definite influence on what we teach, but even more importantly, on the children sitting before us each and every day.

We will be taking a short break from the blog in order to  finish our book (Smarter Charts-Heinemann) and other fun stuff, but we plan to launch a new blog post by the end of February.

Until then, Happy Charting!

Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz


International Appeal

Posted: February 6, 2012| Author:chartchums|Filed under:Uncategorized | Tags:charts, icon, school, visuals|

Hello again! For this week’s post, we will celebrate powerful charts in classrooms from the exotic locale of Taipei American School, located in Taipei, Taiwan.

Before we start looking at charts, a word or two about the school. Taipei American School (TAS) is a pre-K to twelve school located in the Tien-Mu area of Taipei. The bulk of their students are Americans of Asian Heritage with a smaller percentage from around the world. The teachers have been using readers and writers workshop for the past four years, led by a fearless and brilliant coach: Carrie Tenebrini. All the teachers at the school are warm, lovely, passionate educators and their quest for student independence and clear explicit teaching is evident in the charts they make.

As a visitor in Taipei, the teachers made sure I was well fed and cared for, but there were times when I found myself alone with another colleague. Rather than give in to panic surrounded by a language we did not know, nor could we read, we used the one thing readily available to us: symbols and visuals!

Directions on the Airplane

It was striking again and again, how critical visuals are in helping one function in the world. From the above example of “do nots” when flying (Although, who exactly, is operating remote control cars is not clear to me) to the below icons for exit and slippery, we were able to maneuver our way through the country.

Exit

Slippery when Wet

The same is true for the charts in our classrooms. Especially in a school with a large percentage of English Language Learners, like TAS, visuals and icons are the linking language for students. They may not know the word in English, but they know the concept and a visual or an icon helps them interpret the charts in your room.

Using Photographs

Rereading chart with student images from the classroom

The first grade team at TAS has long been talking about getting more student images on their charts. From sample post-its to photographs, using student work and pictures makes the chart instantly more accessible. Even if I am not sure of the language, the pictures show me the behavior that I can replicate on my own. As an aside, this team also color codes their charts- anything green is reading, anything blue is writing… so smart!

Using tools

Amanda, a wise second grade teacher at TAS, used a photograph in this chart to help her readers get and stay organized with their materials. The photograph allows a touchstone for children to refer back to, as well as a prompt for what to do every day. The annotations around the side support the work that readers should be doing with these tools!

Using Shared Texts

Fluency

Jennifer, another thoughtful second grade teacher at TAS, has been working with her students around fluency. This chart takes a text that the students know well through shared reading experiences and annotates it with post-its. On each big sticky note there is an icon to show what to look for and an explanation on how that will change your reading. Since children spent a long time working on this text, there is no new instruction happening on this chart, rather a powerful reminder of all they know, so they can use it again and again.

Holding Students Accountable, Even the Littlest Ones

Kindergarten rereading chart

Carlee, an amazing kindergarten teacher, is the source of this chart. Before we look at how she is holding five year olds accountable, a quick word about the symbols. The book lets the children know this is a reading chart. The symbol for rereading was spoken about and made with our fingers before it was put on the chart, and each section of the chart has a clear picture to remind students of the strategy. This chart was built over several days, but Carlee took this chart one step further when she had her five year olds put their name on the strategy they were going to try this day. This small act of goal setting holds children accountable for the teaching you have done and creates a purpose to the work they are tackling back at their own seat.

Thanks again to the incredible teachers at TAS for a week of hard work, smart thinking, and powerful practice!  Until next time, Happy Charting!

Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz


Charting the Common Core – Part II

Posted: January 23, 2012| Author:chartchums|Filed under:Uncategorized|

Last week’s post looked at nonfiction writing through the lens of the common core writing standard 2 and how charts can help support that instruction. We shared examples of ways to generate topics, rehearse and plan, draft, and revise using mentor texts. This week we take a look at the final part of the writing process: editing. Specifically, how the common core standards can inform the decisions we make about what conventions of language to teach and what to expect when kids edit their writing. This week we will look at Language Standard 2, which for Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade students states:

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

This is an area of constant concern for many teachers. We often hear, “What can I do to get my kids to use periods and initial capitals?” Or, “How can I get them to use spaces between their words?” And the proverbial, “They spell all the words correctly for the spelling test, but then misspell the same words when they write.” One thing to keep in mind is that all these things need to be practiced repeatedly. The other thing to note is that the standards are cumulative and provide goals for the end of the school year and often use language such as, ‘with support,’ or ‘with prompting,’ or ‘will use frequently occurring adjectives,’ and so on. Charts are a great way to support this cumulative type of work.

Take a closer look at standard 2 a. and standard 2b. as they are closely related and are a good place to start when it comes to editing. 2a. is about capitalization and 2 b. concerns punctuation.

2 a. Capitalize…
Kindergarten… the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I.
First Grade… dates and names of people.
Second Grade… holidays, product names, and geographic names.

2 b. Punctuation
Kindergarten… Recognize and name end punctuation.
First Grade… Use end punctuation for sentences.
Second Grade… Use commas in greetings and closing of letters.

If we keep in mind these standards are cumulative we can see that kindergarten teachers are just introducing a few conventions. Then first grade teachers can expect initial capitals and the pronoun I capitalized, since this is the standard for the end of kindergarten. The use of ending punctuation is by the end of first grade. So second grade can set the expectation that ending punctuation will be used all the time at the end of sentences.

Enough about standards. Let’s look at some charts! At Charles Barrett Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, the awesome kindergarten team was preparing to finish up a unit on writing pattern books. The children had been writing up a storm, and since this unit was designed to support children as they moved into conventional reading the teachers wanted to turn students’ attention to ending punctuation. Just developing an awareness of periods and how they might be used when writing pattern books led to this chant and this chart to be read again and again. Remember, the standard for kindergarten is that children will simply recognize and name end punctuation.

Periods may be small, but just look at what they do!

The next question the teachers had was what kind of editing chart might they make that would be easy for children to follow and that would introduce the idea of editing. The chart below emphasizes the purpose for editing – it makes your book easier to read. It then contains reminders from previous instruction, but not all children may be remembering to do, like writing their name on every book and stretching out words, hearing more and more sounds. Putting in spaces between words was something that was being emphasized during this unit to help children make one to one match. Putting periods after each sentence is not a part of this chart because it was just introduced and can not yet be an expectation.

This chart illustrates how an editing chart is recursive and builds on previous learning, not new learning.

The equally amazing first grade teachers at Charles Barrett were also finishing up a unit and also wanted to focus on editing, especially ending punctuation and initial capitals. Their unit was on informational writing, All About Books, which gave us an opportunity to think about why nonfiction authors use punctuation and what punctuation they use most often. This lead to a mini-inquiry into why authors use the punctuation they use, with a focus on periods. We used a shared reading big book because it was easier to see periods in an enlarged book. We used “Fire” by Luana Mitten and Mary Wagner published by Rourke Classroom Resources, which has a wonderful series of lap books that are designed to be used as mentor texts for writing called, “Readers for Writers.”

What we noticed about the use of periods and capitals in "Fire" that we can do too.

Most inquiries begin with a question, so we began by asking what punctuation did these authors use the most and why? A quick count showed that this author used 18 periods, one comma, one question mark, and one ellipses. This lead to the question, “Which punctuation is the most used? The most important? Periods may be small, but they have a power all their own. The next question was why did the authors decide to use a period where and when they did. Because this was so new, it was the teacher who modeled the thinking by thinking aloud possible answers to this big question. “Hmm, I’m noticing that after the author stated a fact, she put  a period. It is almost like she wants to say, “Stop! This period is telling me to stop and think about this fact she is teaching me right now.” before I go on reading.

To remind first grade children to use initial capitals, a skill we hope most children have been taught, you might interrupt the workshop to point out that now that everyone was using so many periods, it is a good time to check that after every period you are starting the next sentence with a capital letter. During the share that brings your workshop to a close you can add this important tip to your punctuation chart. Charts are meant to be planned, but also responsive to the needs we see as they come up.

Each key editing point is stated and illustrated.

When it comes to editing, once we have taught a few specific strategies for checking one’s writing so it is easy to be read and added these strategies to a class chart, the time comes to make students take on more responsibility for checking themselves that they are using these skills without being told to by a teacher. One way to do this is to turn our editing charts into individual checklists, thereby handing over responsibility to the children. Editing checklists are probably the checklists most used and copied by teachers the world over. But they are often used by students as a one-shot deal. Check. Done. Check. Done. Instead, think about each category on a checklist as a reminder. Then encourage students to tally each time they have used the strategy listed. Below are some sample “checklists” that can be turned into tally sheets that show how often a student has used a skill.

This is a possible editing checklist for kindergarten that encourages an "I can" attitude.

The key reminders on this checklist include, ‘I have my name on my paper.’ ‘I can read my own writing.’ ‘I checked the word wall.’ ‘I left space between my words.’ And, as always, pictures support the meaning of the words.

This is a possible checklist for first and second grade writers to use with partners.

When it comes to editing, writers often turn to copy editors when they are getting ready to publish. With our young writers, this step is just as important. This checklist has a section for partners to participate in the editing process. Once again, you might encourage the participants to tally rather than just do a one time check mark.

This editing checklist reminds children of the sequence writers follow when editing.

All the charts we have illustrated above have been developed by trying to make our instruction as clear as  possible for the children that gather before us. When something is important enough to put up on a chart, the next step is that everyone will start utilizing the strategy. To remind children to use initial capitals, a skill we hope most first grade children have been taught, you might interrupt the workshop to point out that now that everyone is using so many periods, it is a good time to check that after every period you are starting the next sentence with a capital letter. During the share that brings your workshop to a close you can add this important tip to your punctuation chart. Charts are meant to be planned, but also responsive to the needs we see as they come up.  “Let’s do it!” might become a rallying cry.

Final thoughts:  slow down, clarify, reteach, and celebrate, every small moment. And make these moments public in the form of a chart. Charts help make the abstract clear and visual. Most importantly, charts make our teaching stick.

Until next time, happy charting!

Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz


Charting the Common Core

Posted: January 15, 2012| Author:chartchums|Filed under:Uncategorized|

Just like you, we here at chart chums are getting back in the swing of things.  We hope you are rested, relaxed, and reinvigorated for the next few weeks! This week’s post continues looking at non-fiction writing through the lens of the common core state standards. Some of you are now just beginning non-fiction writing, and if you are a first grade teacher, you are probably familiar with writing standard 2:

Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic,
and provide some sense of closure. 

(a complete set of the standards is available at core standards.org)

So that is the standard that first grade writers need to reach, but how do we get them there? Let’s take it step by step:

Write an informative/explanatory text in which they name a topic

To our eyes there are a few things in this first chunk. The first is they have to choose a topic that they know about, and then they have to write a text that feels like it is teaching a reader. Students have to make sure they have named the topic they are teaching about. To help with writing a text that is teaching you might make a chart like this:

A chart which defines the genre

This chart can be made with your students after reading a few samples of information books. You might even read a fictional book about a topic, for example any of the Froggy series by Jonathan London, and follow with a non-fiction book on frogs. When made together, this chart can serve as a touchstone all unit long for writers. It can also grow and change as children’s understanding of the genre becomes more sophisticated.

No matter the genre, the writing process remains the same. Writers generate ideas, rehearse & plan, revise and edit. First, you want children to be able to generate lots of topics, not just come up with one or two. To help with topics, you might make a chart like this:

This generating topics chart builds upon strategies learned in earlier units.

Then comes rehearsing and planning how your book might sound and go. The planning chart below emphasizes that all writers plan, but there are a few different ways each writer may choose to plan. It also invites children to try more than one way to plan, encouraging independence.

Finally to help children introduce a topic, you may create a chart like the ever wonderful Rosie Young from PS 1 in Manhattan which sets children up to revise by trying out their leads a few different ways:

A chart to support different leads

As with many of the charts we post here on chart chums, you can see Rosie’s use of mentor texts right on her chart. This, as we have mentioned before, is a powerful way to help writers learn how to use mentor texts, but also help the concepts “stick” since they are texts the children know well.

Supply some facts about the topic

The next part of the standard has to do with elaboration. You can find some tips on elaboration in non-fiction at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Website (readingandwritingproject.com) which is where Karin Ma, another great teacher from PS 1, found the information to develop this rubric for her students:

Elaboration rubric

Close up on the first two levels

Close up on the last two levels

Karin, very wisely, first assessed her writers using the rubrics from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project performance assessment (available at the same website above) and made a kid friendly version with samples. This way children can self assess their writing and use the rubric to become stronger non-fiction writers across the unit.

Rosie Young supported another type of elaboration in the following chart: