Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nonfiction Writing in KC

 In the past, I have used Lucy Calkins Unit of Study Books(which I love) but this year I decided to use lessons from Linda Hoyts Crafting Nonfiction. I just bought the book it was expensive around fifty dollars, but it is worth every penny!!!  I love her style of writing; her lessons are simple yet so effective. So below, I will share how I took some of her BIG IDEAS and used them in my class to get a started with writing nonfiction books.

~Looking at a photograph of                                           a nonfiction text ~ 

 What can you learn from this picture of a giraffe? 

This lesson focuses on looking at a picture and getting information.  I did this lesson many times over the last week using different animals. I also modeled how some of our descriptions could  turn into sentences for a book.The kids loved talking about what they noticed.

Student Recording

 Students came to the meeting area with a clipboard and while we created a  class chart describing the animal they worked independently on the sheet below.  

We learned about sketching our work.

Looking carefully at a snake.

 Looking carefully at a Giraffe.

I had students select a nonfiction book/ picture and talk about what they notice from the picture. 

Sheet to record what you notice from pictures

Class Book
We took a class vote on what animal the class would write about. You can see the list of class suggestions. 
Dolphins won in the end. 

know when the students create their nonfiction books 
they will probably pick one from this list.

Learning About Dolphins
We used the photo above, and we read 
the book Bottlenose Dolphins.

During the lesson, I did a lot of thinking aloud.

T: Wow just by carefully looking at the picture we know that dolphins live in the water. They have tiny sharp teeth. Dolphins have skin like the color of the water. What does that usually mean when an animal/creature blends in with its habitat?  
Dolphins swim above and below the water.

While reading the story, we recorded relevant keywords. The Keywords will help us remember important facts to include in our nonfiction book. Linda Hoyt defines keywords as those that are essential to understanding a concept.  Each group selected a keyword to write about and illustrate. 

The Post-Its has the keyword from the reading.

 Partners created books about animals. 

The dolphin has almost 100 teeth it swallows whole fish.

They swim in groups, and they are mammals.

Warm water dolphins
Dolphins have a blowhole it helps them breath. Dolphins have a blowhole it closes when the dolphins underwater.

Dolphins jump as tall as giraffes neck.
Parts of a dolphin
For this dolphin book, I plan on adding more nonfiction features during interactive writing time. 

Guess Who Books

On a different day, we read the following Guess Who series books recommended by Mrs. Bell from A Place Called Kindergarten. I love everything Mrs. Bell does in her classroom!!!!  

She has a recent post on nonfiction goals that I LOVE! I got all of the books out of the library, and when I read them to my class the kids went CRAZY!!!  I need to buy them. At the time of sharing half the class was going home, and the other half had a stay-day, immediately the kids wanted to write a Guess Who Books. 

Pebble Books 

Pebble books have great nonfiction facts. 
You can find these books in scholastic book orders.
The amount of print and  information is perfect for kindergarten.

Before starting our Guess Who books 
we reread a story writing Key Words from the book.

  Groups started by reading their nonfiction book about their topic. While reading, they recorded important words from the books. I was checking in with each group. One group just looked at the pictures and illustrated things they noticed. I was excited to see that because it connected back to the first few lessons on looking at photographs and finding information.
Keywords for Guess who Leaps

Here is the story three girls wrote that day. 


  1. I have a writing book by Linda Hoyt, but haven't seen this one. I am going to check it out today. I really like the ideas you shared here about nonfiction writing. I need to do more of this in my classroom. Thanks for sharing! You're awesome!

  2. These are great writing ideas! Your kids have come so far this year. You must be very proud!

  3. I always enjoy the writing in your room! Please send those kids to my first grade class next year!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  4. Love your ideas on writing! I need to check out this book!
    Conversations in Literacy

  5. Thanks for all your comments!! There are so many more lessons in her book! It also comes with a disc full of blackline masters. For each section she has a section that shows you what to do for less experienced writers and more experienced writer. It's great!! Melissa

  6. I love your blog! I am always inspired when I check your site! What is your daily schedule like?

  7. Hi Laura, My schedule gets better after this April vacation because all the kids will stay full time. Since September each child has two full stay days. The nice part is that I only have half a class two days a week. There is not enough time in the day to get to what is required plus specialist. I don't get to everything in a day but ideally, I have a writing workshop block, one/hopefully two rounds of the Daily 5 (Reading Time), and a 30-40 min. math workshop block. Some times I teach the math game at a transition time and then they have the workshop block. Twice a week we have Open Circle which is 15 min. sessions(social curriculum) and a thirty minute block for science. The kids also get choice time. I do have flexibility with my schedule. The specialist are at different times on different days so some days I have a lot more time and some days we have no time!! I don't know if that makes sense!! There is never enough time to get to everything!! Melissa

  8. As an aspiring writer perhaps I should buy "Crafting Nonfiction." It looks like a fabulous book that has inspired wonderful work.

  9. It has so many great lessons! Melissa

  10. Your post made my day! I love your blog and your pins!! If I could create my idea would be right across the hall:)
    A Place Called Kindergarten

  11. The feeling is soooooooooo mutual!!! Melissa


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...