6. A Big Improvement

Writing Conventions

With a specific writing convention in mind, flip through predictable big books to find a text that offers multiple opportunities to demonstrate the feature. (And any book can be a “big book,” if displayed on a doc cam!) The more times a targeted convention appears, the more opportunities there are to drive home your teaching point.

Prepare the text prior to your lesson by writing the questions you will ask and the engagement strategies you will use on Post-it notes, which you can place on the appropriate pages of the book.

White Post-it tape can be used to cover over punctuation on pages later in the book or on student copies so that students have the opportunity to discuss marks that are “missing” on a page, and to add the feature(s) to the book with a pen. Or you can unveil the feature by peeling off the tape to reveal punctuation beneath.

During the lesson:

Read the first page aloud to students and ask questions that will allow them to apply what they know about spoken language before they see the text.

For example, with the first page of (Ant Can’t, above) you could ask “What did the bird say? What did the ant say? How do you know?”

On the next page (below), you can draw students’ attention to reviewing previously taught written conventions, by asking questions such as “What does bee ask? What endmark is used to show there’s a question?”

And then, you can extend the learning by pointing out the new convention you plan to teach: “How do we know Ant is talking? What punctuation is used around Ant’s words?”

The remaining pages of the text can be used to reinforce the convention you’d like to see students’ apply to their own writing.

For the last page or two of the predictable book, you may want to have students add the “missing” punctuation to the page by writing on the Post-it tape you placed prior to the lesson. Students can tell what is “missing” on the page and then you can have a volunteer pull off the Post-it tape in a grand reveal.

To support application of the convention, you may want to give students a photocopy of a page or two of the book so each child can “write in the book” before they then look in their own written pieces for opportunities to apply the convention.

Click here to return to the list of activities.

Click here to go to Activity 7: You Can Spell That Again!

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