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Invention Convention

Wk 4: Writing “How to Instructions”

Learning Outcomes: 
  • The learner will write instructions explaining "how to" use the invention, while attending to "seemingly" obvious details.
  • Fourth Grade, English Language Arts, Goal 4, Objective 4.07
  • Once the "how to" directions have been written and the invention has been created (probably during weeks 5 and 6,) the teacher will assign each student a partner. Each partner, without help, will follow the directions listed on the "How to Plan." If the partner is not able to follow the directions to successfully use the invention, the inventor will need to revise the directions to be more specific.

"Invention Convention" is an integrated project combining learning from language arts, science, and math curriculums allowing students to apply their understandings of magnets and electricity by designing or improving an existing invention.

Classroom Time Required: 
  • 30 minute whole group lesson
  • 45 Minute Writer's Workshop
Materials Need: 
  • Student Inventor's Log
  • "How to Plan" (found in Teacher Created Resources, week 4)
  • "ELL How to Plan" (found in Teacher Created Resources, week 4)
  • Prior to this lesson, students should have completed "Invention Design."

Part 1

  • In this activity, the students will acknowledge that a writer must be very specific when giving instructions, especially considering this will be an unfamiliar item that a person will be using for the first time.
  • The teacher will have available supplies to perform a seemingly simple task like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cutting a snowflake, or drawing a picture of a house, etc. For the purpose of this lesson, the sandwich idea will be used.
  • In front of the class, the teacher will present all items needed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The teacher will then say, "Raise your hands and give me instructions on how to make this sandwich." During this activity, the teacher must literally follow the directions the students give. For example, a student will probably say, "Put the peanut butter on the bread." The teacher should set the jar of peanut butter on the bread. The purpose is for students to realize how specific their words must be in order for a person to follow their directions, especially for something unfamiliar like their inventions.
  • Once students have the idea of how to state specific directions, they will be ready to write their own directions for their own inventions.

Part 2

  • The teacher should remind students that they must be very specific when writing their "how to directions." The teacher will give each student a "How to" plan. The students will write their own directions for using their inventions.
  • The teacher will provide and work with students to generate a list of transition words, appropriate for this activity. Some examples include: first, second third, after, first, next, later, during, wile, finally, then, when, at last, as soon as, etc.
  • The teacher will remind students to use a "comma" after each transition word and transitional phrase.
  • Transition Words and Picture Clues
  • Working with a teacher for small group instruction, ELLs can complete this task while being introduced to ordering transition words: first, then, next, last, later, after that, eventually, finally, etc.
  • The teacher will show the student that the words first, last, and finally have to be used in specific places, while the other words are interchangeable.
  • Using the modified "ELL How to Plan," the student can select an ordering transition word and then convey the direction through picture and / or writing, depending on their language ability.
Supplemental Files: