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Lesson Plan

How-To Writing: Motivating Students to Write for a Real Purpose

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lisa Leliaert

Fishers, Indiana

Publisher

International Reading Association

 

Overview

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

 

OVERVIEW

What do students need to know to succeed in fourth grade (or third or fifth)? What supplies are needed? What rules and steps should be followed? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to write how-to essays for a specific audience—future fourth graders. Although this lesson focuses specifically on fourth grade, it can be easily adapted for third or fifth graders. Students first learn about the how-to writing genre by reading an assortment of instruction manuals. This also demonstrates how how-to writing relates to their everyday lives. The teacher then models each step of the writing process as the students write about how to be successful fourth graders. After students publish their writing, the final drafts are saved for the following year's fourth graders to read at the beginning of the next school year.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

  • Power Proofreading: Students can use this interactive site to complete activities to build their proofreading skills.

  • Essay Map: Using this interactive site, students can organize the information they will include in their essay.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

Huntley-Johnston, L., Merritt, S.P., & Huffman, L.E. (1997). How to do how-to books: Real life writing in the classroom. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 41(3), 172–179.

  • Students need to understand that there are purposes for writing other than for the teacher to read and grade it. Writing how-to essays has been found to be a successful alternative to the traditional research paper or teacher-based essay.

  • How-to writing is a genre that appeals to most students because it is applicable in the world. This genre involves exploring interests and needs to identify a topic, conducting several research methods, and working through the writing process.

  • When students' writing has an authentic audience beyond the classroom teacher, they can see a direct connection between their lives and their literacy development.

 

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