Informative Writing is one of the most common and important types of writing we teach our students. In this post, I’m sharing 5 tips for How to Teach Informative Writing and providing details about the Informational Writing Mini-Unit resources I have created for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students.
We write for a variety of purposes. The most popular are to inform, to entertain, to explain, or to persuade. While we teach our students to write for each of these different purposes, the ability to effectively write an informative piece of writing is a highly important skill for students to learn because it is one of the most common type of writing we use in our everyday lives.
Today I’m excited to share 5 tips for teaching informational writing, as well as a valuable resource that has everything you need to teach informative writing to your kindergarten, first grade, or second grade students!
1. Read Informative Writing Mentor Texts
As a teacher you may “Start with the end in mind” when you plan out your units of study, but it also applies to students learning about different genres of writing. Before you can ask your students to write in a genre that is new to them, you must first immerse them in it.
So to begin your informational writing unit, you’ll want to share lots of quality informational texts with your students. These mentor texts provide students with excellent examples of informational writing. As you read them aloud, highlight the way the author structures their writing and the features they include to help make their writing more clear for the reader. All of these things will help students better understand what type of writing we are asking them to do.
When you’re picking informative mentor texts to share with your students there are a few things to consider. First, do you (the educator) think it is excellent? Second, is it easy for your students to understand? And finally, is it relevant to the type of writing you are teaching? If you answer “Yes!” to all three, then you’re good to go!
To help you out I’ve created a list of excellent mentor texts you can use when teaching Informative Writing to kindergarten, first, or second grade students.
A List of Informative Writing Mentor Texts:
- The Moon Book
- The Pumpkin Book
- One Tiny Turtle
- Big Blue Whale
- Bat Loves the Night
- Surprising Sharks
- Slither and Crawl
- Frozen Wild
- Beachcombing: Exploring the Seashore
- An Egg is Quiet
- A Beetle is Shy
- A Seed is Sleepy
- A Rock is Lively
I’ve saved all these titles on one board so you can easily take a closer look at these mentor texts. Click here to see this list on Amazon.
2. Model Your Own Informational Writing
Never underestimate the importance of modeling! It’s the most powerful tool in your arsenal.
When teaching informative writing first model how to choose a topic. Picking a topic is fun and easy because you get to choose something you already know a lot about!
Remind students that they are already experts in so many areas!! This can be a big confidence booster for kids who might normally struggle to come up with ideas to write about. Use think alouds to show them how you brainstorm a list of topics you already know a lot about and show them how you narrow it down to one.
Next, model how you gather information and organize your ideas. For informative writing you can show them how you use your prior knowledge, as well as pull important information from outside resources like books and websites.
Finally, reread your work aloud and show students how you catch silly mistakes such as spelling, capitalization or punctuation errors. You can also show how you add more details to make your piece more informative for your reader.
3. Use Anchor Charts
You want your students to know that when they write an informative piece they are sharing facts, or true information, with their reader. They are not sharing their opinion. It is important to take time to review fact vs. opinion with your students. You can create an anchor chart that clearly defines fact vs. opinion and then practice determining if different statements are facts or opinions.
You will also want to create an anchor chart using the writing you model. This will serve as another example of excellent informative writing. As a class, add labels to identify the topic sentence, supporting facts/details and the closing sentence in your shared writing.
Post these anchor charts in your writing center so your students can refer back to them and use them as support as they write their own pieces.
4. Allow students to edit and share their writing
Provide a good writers checklist at your writing center. For informative writing you’ll want the checklist to include items such, “Does my writing have a topic sentence?” “Did I include enough facts?” and “Do I have a closing sentence?”, as well reminders to check for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation errors.
Give students the opportunity to share their writing with others! Pair students with partners and let them read their pieces to each other.
You can teach them to provide each other with a bit of feedback by encouraging them to use sentence starters such as, “I like the way you….:” , “I learned that….” or “Your writing made me wonder….”. Of course, this is also something you’d first want to model. Posting these sentence starters in your writing center provides support and helps to keep students focused and on-task.
5. Provide Daily Opportunities for Students to Write
As with all things, writing takes PRACTICE! Informative writing requires students to do a lot of hard work. It requires that they think carefully about their purpose for writing. Then they must plan what they’ll say and how they’ll say it.
Finally, they’ve got to get it down on the paper in a way that is clear for the reader. That’s a lot for a young child!
Students need dedicated instructional time to learn the skills and strategies necessary to become effective writers, as well as time to practice what they learn. When you think about your daily instructional schedule, make sure you are giving your students ample opportunities to practice their informational writing through whole group instruction, small groups and/or through independent practice in writing centers.
Informative Writing Mini-Unit For Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade Students
We know informational writing requires a lot from students, but planning these informative writing units is also A LOT of work for you as the teacher!
To help you out I created informative writing mini-units that have the essential resources you need to teach and students to independently practice informational writing! These units are a perfect addition to your literacy work on writing centers.
These mini-units were developed with standards-based research specific to each grade. They have EVERYTHING you need to give your students ample amounts of practice writing informational pieces. You can use them within whole class or small group lessons, or as a literacy center where students can practice independently!
What’s Included in these Informative Writing Resources?
The kindergarten, first grade, and the second grade resources all include information to help you teach the unit, as well as mini-lesson to provide your students a review of informative writing. You’ll get a list of suggested mentor texts and online resources, academic vocabulary posters, a printable fact vs. opinion anchor chart, and graphic organizers appropriate for each grade level.
The kindergarten resource also includes the materials needed for students to create seasonal writing mini-books. Each mini-book comes with traceable sentence stems and a picture supported vocabulary word bank. This helps your young writers brainstorm ideas for what to write about and support their spelling.
You’ll also get an editing checklist that is specific to informative writing but also appropriate for the kindergarten level.
Instead of a seasonal mini-book, the first grade and second grade resource comes with seasonal writing prompts. You’ll get 5 informative writing prompts for each season, so you can practice informative writing all throughout the year.
The prompts are both PRINTABLE & DIGITAL. The digital version has been PRELOADED for you, with 1 click add them to your Google Drive or upload them to SeeSaw.
Each seasonal prompt also comes with publishing paper that includes a story specific vocabulary bank to provide spelling support and help students get ideas for what to write about.
Finally, you’ll also get a self-editing checklist and rubric that have both been made specifically for informative writing. This rubric can be used to help guide students as they work on their pieces, and/or as a self-assessment tool.
I love these resources because they can be used in so many different ways. They offer opportunities for students to practice informative writing as a whole class, in small groups, as a literacy center activity, for homework, or as a meaningful activity for when you have a substitute teacher! They provide k-2 students with all the practice they need to master informative writing!
Helping your students to develop their ability to explain their ideas and share information with others is a valuable academic and life skill they will use well beyond the walls of your classroom. I hope the information and resources I’ve shared today will help to bring stronger informative writing instruction and more meaningful practice to your kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms!
Be on the lookout for my next post that will focus on another genre… Opinion Writing! I’ll share information and tips for teaching opinion writing, as well as give you details about my Opinion Writing Mini-Units for Kindergarten, First and Second grade students!
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