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March 18, 2011

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Writing Sensory Details

June 6, 2007

I used this in the second grade unit, Courage but it can be used with any grade level/story as a means for drawing out sensory details from students.

In the story “Brave as a Mountain Lion,” the author uses language to describe how the main character, Spider, feels when he is scared of participating in a spelling bee. The author writes that he did not feel like eating, felt his legs freeze, his throat tighten, and his heart pumping, while he could not talk.

This activity asks students to think about a time when they were afraid and identify how it felt in their bodies to feel fear.

  • First students, drew pictures of the outlines of their bodies. While it may be tempting to have students jump right in and begin writing, having students begin by drawing greatly enriches the quality of their writing as well as student engagement.
  • Then students label their pictures, drawing lines to 3-4 parts of their body and writing a note about how that part of their body felt. For example, line drawn to stomach and label, “Butterflies in stomach.”
  • Next students write about their pictures using this linguistic frame (also called a communication guide):
    • I felt scared when……….
    • I was scared because……….
    • My….was/were……….
    • Also, my……….was/were………..
    • My……….
  • Students then publish their writing.

Completed example:

I felt scared when I had to sing in front of the school. I was scared because I didn’t know the song I was going to sing. My voice was shaking. Also, my legs were trembling. My stomach had butterflies.

© 2007 by Mathew Needleman


Thinking Maps Resources

May 16, 2007

I just added a few great resources to one of the sub sites of Open Court Resources, Thinking

I added links to:
podcast from the Accidental Technologist Blog with great examples of thinking maps used creatively in the classroom
a ten minute film from the creators of thinking maps which is a good refresher/introduction for anyone on using the maps
and reading and writing homework using circle and flow maps contributed by City Teacher

Thanks to everyone for making these great ideas available. I hope to keep adding links to try and keep all of these resources accessible from one central location.