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  1. Descriptive Writing Danielle Wilkins EDCI 647 March 24, 2009

  2. Agenda • Descriptive Writing A-Z • What is descriptive writing and where is it found? • Descriptive writing instruction • Descriptive writing techniques • Teaching descriptive writing techniques through minilessons • Survey: Encountering Descriptive Writing • Using descriptive writing techniques in the writing process • Assessing children’s writing

  3. Resources • Main Resource • Tompkins, G. (2008). Descriptive Writing. In Teaching writing: Balancing process and product, 5th ed. (pp. 218-238). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

  4. Resources • Additional Resources • Great Source Education Group (2001). Books for teaching word choice. In Books, lessons, ideas for teaching the six traits: Writing in the elementary and middle grades. (pp. 87-100). Wilmington, MA: Great Source Education Group. • Lamm, R. (1999). From Grief, Poetry: Expressive Writings from the Westside Tragedy. In The Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter 1999). Retrieved on March 14, 2009 from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/837 • Sensory Language (2.15-2.16); Figurative Language (2.19-2.20). In Standards-Based Assessment for All Students, Grade 6. Evanston, IL: McDougal Little, Inc.

  5. Introduction:Descriptive Writing A-Z • Take 2 minutes to write as many words as you can about descriptive writing. Write the term under the letter that it begins with. • Feel free to use • Descriptive writing techniques • What you know about writing descriptions • What you do to write and understand descriptions

  6. ?? Starting Questions ?? • How did you learn to understand descriptive writing? • What can we do to teach our students how to add descriptions to their writing? • What do students need in order to write descriptively?

  7. You are an artist with words. What is Descriptive Writing? • Descriptive writing can be… • Descriptive writing is painting pictures with words. • A phrase, Click of the camera • A sentence, The old house stood silently on the steep hill. • A paragraph, or an entire composition.

  8. Where can we find descriptive writing? • Descriptive writing is found in all genres, fiction and nonfiction, but especially in poetry and stories. • “Show, not tell, as you write.” -- Ken Macrorie, 1985 (Tomkins, p. 221).

  9. 5 Descriptive Writing Techniques that Children can Learn • Adding Specific Information • Choosing Words Carefully • Creating Sensory Images • Making Comparisons (metaphors and similes) • Writing Dialogue

  10. Descriptive Writing Techniques: Goals and Activities • Kindergarten - Grade 2: Students learn words that describe. • Goals: • Create sensory images • Add specific information • The key is Brainstorming words before producing writing pieces.

  11. Descriptive Writing Techniques: Goals and Activities • Grades 3-5: Students expand on known descriptive vocabulary through use of resources and brainstorming of synonyms • Goals • Write dialogue • Choose words carefully • Make comparisons • Students interact with text that they have read

  12. Descriptive Writing Goals and Activities • Grades 6-8 • Goal • Students use descriptive techniques in their writing • Students are able to identify descriptive techniques in grade-level text.

  13. Moving Students from Telling to Showing:More About Descriptive Writing Techniques1. Adding Specific Information • Create a distinct mental picture by adding specific information in writing. • You can do this by: • Identifying specific activities and behaviors; • Naming the characters; • Identifying the setting; and • Listing attributes of what you are identifying. • The Key is to First Identify, Then Describe. • Students need opportunities to talk about what they will write about and brainstorm words and ways to describe their topic(s).

  14. Moving Students from Telling to Showing:More About Descriptive Writing Techniques2. Word Choice • Using specific and vivid words in descriptions give writing its energy. • Guidelines for choosing the best words: • Choose specific nouns to give readers a much more colorful and detailed picture of what they are reading. • Use vivid verbs to give writing more energy. Avoid the “bland be” verbs: is, are, was, and were. • Choose colorful adjectives and adverbs but use them judiciously. Be careful of overusing them. • Use synonyms to avoid repetition. A thesaurus can help with this, but the selected synonym must fit the meaning of the sentence. • Avoid “tired” words like said, nice, bad, good, and pretty. Use alternatives for these words. • Differentiate among similar words. Teach students to choose the correct alternative when confronted with similar words such as homophones (pail, pale), word pairs (learn, teach), and similarly spelled words (quiet, quite).

  15. Moving Students from Telling to Showing:More About Descriptive Writing Techniques3. Sensory Images • Adding sensory information makes writing more memorable. Writers add it to strengthen images and make word pictures more vivid. • Encourage students to add sensory details to their writing by teaching mini-lessons that about writing sensory images.

  16. Moving Students from Telling to Showing:More About Descriptive Writing Techniques4. Making Comparisons • One of the most powerful techniques in descriptive writing is making comparisons. • Two types of comparisons are similes and metaphors. • Teaching how to make comparisons in writing. • Teach young children how to notice and make everyday comparisons. • Descriptive word as a topic. Ex: loud as a lion • Teach comparison lessons using texts that use fresh and vivid comparisons.

  17. Moving Students from Telling to Showing:More About Descriptive Writing Techniques5. Adding Dialogue to Writing • Dialogue gives more force to writing and adds emphasis to a particular mood that the writing is trying to create. • Add dialogue instead of summarizing what characters talked about. • Many examples of dialogue are present in children’s literature and can be used when highlighting the importance of using dialogue in descriptive writing.

  18. Teaching Descriptive Writing Techniques through Writing Activities during Mini-Lessons • During mini-lessons, teachers: • Provide basic information about the technique(s) • Share examples from literature (Tomkins provides many books appropriate for each writing technique) • Involve children in writing techniques for practice

  19. Teaching Descriptive Writing Techniques Mini-Lessons • Tompkins provides 6 mini-lessons • Creating five-senses clusters • Listing attributes • Building sentences • Crafting comparisons • Creating dialogue • Adding words to wordless picture books

  20. Descriptive Writing Mini-LessonsThe Five - Senses Cluster • Create a cluster map with five ovals surrounding a larger oval. Leave all blank. • Label the Diagram. The item being described is written in the center, and a sense is filled in each of the surrounding ovals. • Brainstorm ideas using students’ background knowledge. Alert students to other characteristics of the topic. • Complete the cluster map. • From here, students can complete other writing activities (e.g., poems) using the words supplied in the cluster web.

  21. Descriptive Writing Mini-LessonsListing Attributes • Develop within your students the careful observationalskills of experienced writers. • Activities that can develop observational skills : • Listing attributes from their observations (of classroom pets, events, films, etc.) • Cut pictures from magazines and list attributes from the picture • Examine Art Prints • Brainstorm attribute words while looking at an art print. • Students do a quickwrite describing the painting, using as many attributes as they can. • Share quickwrites and highlight their favorite descriptive sentences with highlighters. • Create a found poem by taking turns reading their favorite highlighted sentences.

  22. Descriptive Writing Mini-LessonsBuilding Sentences • Building sentences allows students to see the power of specific information, sensory images, and comparisons. • Provide Sentence Frames for a sentence. • Students brainstorm a list of words and phrases for each blank and choose words and phrases to create descriptive sentences. • There is great room for students to explore how many different sentences that they can create.

  23. Descriptive Writing Mini-LessonsCrafting Comparisons • Provide opportunities for students to craft comparisons. • Build on a shared experience and provide the attribute for the comparison to help students practice with making comparisons. • Opportunities to Practice with Comparisons • After Reading a Text • After a Field Trip or other shared experience during an Language Experience Approach (LEA) • Techniques to Prompt Students to Make Comparisons • Questioning • What does _____ make you think of? What is it like? • Listing Comparisons then selecting the most personally powerful • Add a phrase to the comparison to complete it / build a piece of writing around the comparison. • Move students from using the language of similes (like / as) to metaphors (is / was)

  24. Descriptive Writing Mini-LessonsCreating Dialogue • Comic Books ! • Have students draw a favorite scene from a story they have read and adding talk and/or thought balloons rather than summarizing or writing a paragraph about it. • Create a storyboard with picture books. • Students write dialogue for the characters with Post-its • Write the story using the picture and the Post-its attached to the story board • Collect the writings, arrange them in sequence and compile them to make a class retelling of the book.

  25. Descriptive Writing Mini-LessonsAdding Words to Wordless Picture Books • Provides practice with using a variety of descriptive writing techniques • Brainstorm descriptive words and phrases on sticky notes and / or write dialogue on them. • Students use the descriptive language on the sticky notes in their retelling of the story.

  26. Using Descriptive Writing Techniques in Daily Writing • The Revising Stage of the Writing Process • The most important stage for descriptive writing. • During peer editing, students can comment and compliment each other on their use of descriptive writing techniques and aid in the addition of more descriptions.

  27. Graphic Organizers Character Maps Writing Process Graphic Organizers • Five-Senses Clusters (see handout)

  28. Assessment of Student Writing • Rubrics; • Checklists;

  29. Online ResourcesFeel free to modify these however you like! • 5 Senses Cluster Map (pdf) • Writing Process - Poetry (Word doc) • Encounters with Descriptive Writing (Word doc) • Descriptive Writing Checklist (Word doc) • Descriptive Writing A-Z (Word doc) • Descriptive Writing Presentation Versions 1 and 2 • Sensory Details Lesson • Etc. (If you use the poems, please let me know so that I can add the source.

  30. Any Questions? Thank you for your time!