Our fourth-graders are getting ready to start their information writing unit. Instead of a classic writing workshop lesson, I co-taught a lesson today where their teacher read them one of my favorite mentor texts, It's All About Me-ow by Hudson Talbott, and I wrote down what I noticed that the author did as an information writer.
As the classroom teacher read, I jotted down what I noticed about the book, but I purposely stayed just behind the teacher as he read. That way, some of the students felt like they "noticed" first, while some of them "noticed" because I did. Either way, every student was engaged and they all have a list of craft moves in their writer's notebooks that they are excited to try in their own information books.
I did not expect to notice over twenty-five craft moves, or I might have written smaller:
That being said, I think that it's really important that we don't obsess with having perfect charts. I loved the fact that the entire left-hand column is added because of what the students noticed and I missed. They were so proud of themselves!
I highly recommend Hudson Talbott's book as a mentor text for information writing because he does such an amazing job of including information with humor, voice, figurative language, and text features. The students loved the story and the craft moves--I can't wait to see what they write!
As new units begin, I also recommend having this sort of inquiry with any unit at any grade level. Read an appropriate level mentor text, especially one that the class has already read. Talk about the craft moves, the impact, the reasons that the writing piece works. This chart, admittedly messy but created together, will serve the students well throughout their unit as a source of inspiration for their own information pieces.