Did you know that procedural writing in 2nd grade, also known as How To writing, is indeed a skill that needs to be taught to your second graders? This can actually be so fun to teach and the topics to write about are endless! Read on for some great tips for teaching your 2nd graders how to write procedural or How To writing pieces.
The most important concept when teaching how to writing is ensuring that students are being CLEAR with their writing. Since we focus so much in other pieces on adding details, it is important students learn to be direct with what they are telling their audience. We talk about how someone needs to be able to take their how and clearly follow the directions to get the end point.
By second grade, students should be able to write about 5-7 steps in a procedural writing. They should also be able to include any helpful pictures or diagrams, and a topic and closing sentence.
There are two main challenges: students that want to write too many or too few steps. Students might get OVERLY detailed, and their steps will either be endless or their sentences will be extremely long and hard to follow. Alternatively, some students might forget very important steps and be way too brief. Encourage these students to read their steps to a friend, and see how difficult it is for the friend to follow the steps. This should help them trim or add more details to their writing as needed.
The Writing Process:
I cannot stress enough the importance of taking your students through the writing process every single week, for every single genre. This involves brainstorming/planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, grading and sharing.
Getting students EXCITED can be half the battle during writing. I love to tie all of my writing projects to engaging read alouds and fun topics. You can find my favorite narrative writing companions here.
It is equally important to MODEL each step of the writing process for students. After reading aloud our companion text, I typically will read aloud my model. I also will then model my own plan so students can see what I am looking for when it is their turn to write.
Then, it is time for students to make a plan. Be sure not to skip this phase, it is NOT writing a full draft, but rather jotting down their ideas they are going to write about. They can use bullet points or pictures to gather their ideas, but this should NOT be done in full sentences and should not take longer than 5-10 minutes.
I like to give students a full day to draft their how to writing. We focus on going to a new line for a new step and either using a number and period (1.) or using transition words (first, then, next, last) to separate our facts.
I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year setting up a peer editing time that is productive for students. We spend an entire day revising and editing, and I also roam the room and select certain students each week to conference with during this time.
During How To writing, I also like to encourage students to read their steps aloud and have someone try to follow the steps. If they cannot follow the steps, they need to add or delete information as necessary.
Publish, Grading, Sharing:
I always have students publish a piece of writing every single week. We add it to our writing portfolios that we take home at the end of the year. When students finish publishing, I have them grade themselves on the rubric. Self-assessment is such a powerful tool for students.
After they self grade, we find time to share each week. This can be partner sharing, author’s chair, sharing with buddies, recording themselves reading or more.
What is your favorite activity to teach procedural writing in 2nd grade? Drop it in the comments below!