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Invention Convention

Wk 5: Expository Writing: Developing Informative Paragraphs

Learning Outcomes: 
  • The learner will consider writing elements that will make detailed paragraphs interesting. 
  • The learner will plan and draft three informative paragraphs.
  • Fourth Grade, English Language Arts, Goal 4, Objective 4.06
  • Fourth Grade, English Language Arts, Goal 4, Objective 4.07
  • Prior to beginning their first drafts, students should check in with a teacher.  The teacher should spot check / question to see if students have included an anecdote about their invention or a statistic.  If students have not used the strategies to develop their paragraphs, the teacher should work with the student to include these details in their plan prior to the student beginning to draft. 
  • Once the draft is finished and revised, the student will work with a peer to use a rubric to ensure that the student has met the goals for this lesson.  The teacher will use the same standards from the rubric when evaluating the piece for assessment. 

“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: 

At least two, one-hour time blocks for the whole group mini lessons are needed, and possibly more time for students to complete their independent writing.

Materials Need: 
  • Student Inventor’s Log
  • Student “Focusing Plan”
  • Copies of the “Example Expository Writing” found in the “Teacher Created Resources” column for week 5. 
  • Pencils / Highlighters
  • Copies of the “Expository Writing Peer / Teacher Rubric” found in the “Teacher Created Resources” column for week 6. 
  • Prior to this lesson, students should have completed “Focusing” and “Engaging Openings” lessons for the expository writing section of Invention Convention.     

Lesson One

  • Previously, the students should have examined a catchy slogan for the Nintendo Wii invention.  The teacher should point out that people are making new inventions daily, and often people take overlook the quantity of new and existing inventions that we depend on or enjoy, daily.  (Subsequently, the example of a Nintendo Wii was chosen because it is familiar to kids of many races, ages, and SES levels, and it is current.  Feel free to change this example to meet the needs of your students.)
  • Assign students to work in partners to analyze the example expository writing about the invention of the Nintendo Wii.  Remind students that analyzing writing means to separate the writing into strategies and figure out why the author used those strategies.  Each pair of students will need a copy of the “Example Expository Writing.”  While working, students should:
    • Figure out and write the guiding question for each paragraph
    • Highlight any strategies the author used to describe the information in the paragraphs.
  • As a whole group, students will report back: 
    • Guiding questions include, (or some variation):
      • How does this video game work?
      • Who will be interested in playing the video game?
      • How can a video game make people healthier?
    • Hopefully, students will notice the following strategies that were used:
      • Using senses (describing the wand)
      • Anecdote (fourth grader playing video games after school)
      • Real life example (community organizations)
      • Statistics (CNN and number of Wiis sold)
  • As a whole group, allow students to brainstorm why these strategies are effective.  If they are unsure, guide them to understand:
    • Using senses – description in a more developed way that gives readers a clearer understanding
    • Anecdotes – Help people to see themselves using the invention, helps people to make a connection.
    • Real life examples – credibility and believability
    • Statistics – Help readers understand the vastness, how big, how small, how many, etc. 
  • Remind the students that these are strategies they should use when writing / developing their informative paragraphs tomorrow. 

Lesson Two

  • Explain to students that beginning today, they will plan their paragraphs, draft their paragraphs, and eventually peer edit with a partner.
  • Review the strategies that students can use when planning and writing their paragraphs.  Challenge them to include each strategy, at least once, in their paragraphs. 
  • Allow students the time needed to plan and draft their paragraphs on notebook paper.  This could take several student writing blocks. 
  • Teacher will need to individually differentiate for their ELL students.  Some possibilities for modifications include:
    • Work on one paragraph each day.  Start by having a conversation with the student and generating as many needed words as possible.  Keep a list of the words, possibly illustrated with pictures when possible, for the student to refer back to.  The student can “talk through” their plan while an adult or a trained student scribes the plan.  (This eliminates a non-essential part of this lesson.)
    • If a student is able to communicate the basic ideas using simple English and basic sentence construction, the teacher could focus on using sentence variation strategies.  Instead of starting each sentence with “it” or “the invention” the teacher can help the student use different beginnings for their sentences. 
    • For more advanced students, the teacher can help the student understand the differences between present tense and future tense.  In this type of expository writing, the student will often describe what the invention can do in the present tense and what will happen with the invention in the future tense.  Often, students will have confusion between these sentences.  Together, the teacher and student can choose sentences and identify whether the sentences needs present tense or future tense. 
Supplemental Files: