Cooking Up a How-To Story
At the end of this lesson, students will be able to identify and write an introduction, directions, and conclusion for a how-to story.
- Call students together around a table set up with peanut butter, jelly, bread, and a utensil for spreading. Ask students to bring their Writer’s Notebooks with them.
- Inquire if students have any idea what you might be planning to make today. To give students a hint or provide more of a background story, you can explain that you’re feeling very hungry and ready for a snack.
- Explain to students that today we won’t just be making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but also writing down how to do it, so that they’ll remember in the future and have a way share this information with friends. Write How-To Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich on the board and have students copy this on the top of a page in their writer’s notebooks.
- Ask students to name all of the items set up on the table. Write these on the board and ask students to copy them into their notebook under the word “supplies.”
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling(10 minutes)
- Explain to students that the word “supplies” means the objects they will need to complete a task. It is important to list these first when writing a how-to story, so that people will know everything they need to gather before they begin.
- Tell students that the next part of a how-to story is to tell the reader the steps they will need to follow. These steps need to be presented clearly and in the right order. These are called directions. In order to figure out the directions, students will need to think about all of the smaller steps involved.
- Explain to students that one way to think about the smaller steps involved is to do or make what the how-to is about making a conscious effort to focus on everything that is being done. Demonstrate making a PB&J sandwich for the students and have them focus on all of the smaller steps.
- Ask students to share some of the smaller steps they noticed. (Students should hopefully mention things like laying out the bread, smearing on the peanut butter and jelly, and cutting the sandwich in half. If they do not mention these things, the conversation should be guided until they do so.)
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling(10 minutes)
- Pass out the How-To Writing template from education.com. Demonstrate to students where they would write in the title and supplies.
- Ask students to think back to when the PB&J was being made. What was done first, second, etc. Show students how to write these steps in the right order on the worksheet.
- Allow students to take a few minutes to create illustrations of the directions in the appropriate boxes on the worksheet.
- Then, have students fill in the concluding sentence on the bottom of the worksheet. Explain that a conclusion helps to tie everything together.
- Ask if there are any questions about the different parts of a how-to story and the template. Then, pass out another template worksheet to each student (or pair/small group of students). Explain to students that they will now have the opportunity to write their own how-to story. If they need help choosing a topic, they can write about their favorite sport, hobby, or meal.
Independent Working Time(20 minutes)
- Before sending students back to work, review any rules about appropriate behavior during independent writing time. While students are working, any adults in the room should be circulating, monitoring, and assisting as needed. Playing soft music in the background can help create an atmosphere conducive to writing. Teachers can also have space set aside for students who would benefit from acting out the different steps necessary for their how-to story before writing them down. Keeping a list of requested words on the board can help students who may need assistance with spelling.
Enrichment: For students who need a greater challenge, providing less scaffolding in the form of blank templates or no template at all can increase the challenge. Encouraging students to add 6 or more directions instead of 3 or 4 can also add to the difficulty.
- Support: The use of How-To Templates with more scaffolding (available on the education.com website) can be helpful for students who need a little extra assistance or structure in writing their how-to stories. Encouraging students to try illustrating what happens before writing can also help individuals to narrow down on the smaller steps and determine what needs to be written in the directions.
- Informal assessments can occur by observing the level of participation and interactions students have during sandwich making and group discussions.
- A more formal assessment can be done based on whether or not students are successfully able to write down the supplies, directions, and conclusion for their stories on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- For additional assessment, students can be assigned to write another list of supplies, directions, and a conclusion for something they enjoy doing as homework.
Review and Closing(15 minutes)
- Call students together to share their how-to stories.
- As students share, have other students comment on things the author did that made the directions clearer or easier to follow. If directions are confusing, encourage everyone to think about ways that directions could be modified to be less confusing.
- After students share, remind them of the importance of writing a supply list, including helpful illustrations, and clearly ordering directions. Encourage students to choose another topic for another how-to story.