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Dynamic Mini-Lessons for Teaching Writing


Deliver 10 Mini-Lessons

Trait of Ideas: Stay on topic with titles

Demonstrate how to highlight and check each sentence against the title to verify it’s on topic.

Trait of Ideas: Develop paragraphs

This same concept can be taught at any grade level—just use different anchor papers.

Watch the complete mini-lesson video (above) and then access all the related resources (below).

After revealing the original and revised “Spring Break” examples, guide students to try adding legs to undeveloped ideas.
Pet Care ExampleSchool Dance ExampleTeam Support Example

Add sentences to undeveloped ideas using sticky dots.
“Spring” Examples

Primary teachers can motivate students to write more by allowing them to switch pen colors and write “Colorful Sentences.”
PDF | Smartboard NotebookK-1 Student Examples

Trait of Word Choice: Utilize action verbs

View the entire 15-minute mini-lesson.

Trait of Word Choice: Show, don’t tell

Develop students’ ability to write descriptively and vividly.

Create action-verb phrases. | Writing-Time Handout

Magic Coloring Book Visual Trigger

Trait of Organization: Connect with transitions

Review with students the function of a transition—to merge the reader from one idea to the next.

Trait of Voice: Play with perspective

When teaching perspective, reveal the same topic or issue from varying sides.

Download the 3-Day mini-lesson outline for teaching perspective.

Reveal the same situation told by four characters in Voices in the Park.

Download 4-slide PowerPoints created by former fourth grade teacher Deb Conley of Fairview Elementary (Sherwood, OH) and her students.

Challenge students to write about content-area concepts from a unique perspective.

“Chicks,” by a second grader

“Dear Miss Mitochondria,” by a seventh grader

Each crayon color offers a different perspective of his life in The Day the Crayons Quit.

Fourth grade teacher Kristin Turner from South Creek Elementary (Indianapolis, IN) shares examples of inanimate objects writing to their student owners.

Trait of Ideas: Go from list to draft

Teach students how to move from a pre-write list of words and details to a fleshed-out first draft of sentences.

Trait of Conventions: Insert prepositional phrases

Most prepositions tell the reader where something is positioned.

Emily Dunbar’s “Preposition Song”
Opening lyrics

Another writing task could include “Prepositional Phrase Scavenger Hunt.” Use a busy scene like these images from archived Highlights magazines. 
(Download all six as an 11×17 PDF or click each JPEG image.)

Trait of Conventions: Punctuate dialogue

Remind students that the purpose of all conventions, including punctuation marks, is to aid the reader in understanding the writer’s message.

Purpose of Punctuation | Lessons that Change Writers by Nancie Atwell

Early dialogue is put into speech bubbles as seen in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.

Encourage students to weave dialogue into pictorial writing using the Speech Bubble Template.

Trait of Ideas: Elaborate with definition details

For every topic-specific vocabulary word students include in their writing, they can insert an explanation or synonym. This improves the word choice and demonstrates a sense of audience.