Monday, July 16, 2012

Pictures Help Teach Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing creates a “Word portrait,” so what better way to teach that than to use pictures from old calendars, or greeting cards, pictures from magazines, art projects, or scenes from your school campus as a writing catalyst?

"Lucy, the sleepy Maupin House
mascot, relaxes after a long weekend."
To get started, project a picture for the class and work interactively to describe it. Focus on the Target Skill your class is trying to master. For example, if you are working on descriptive attributes, you can work together to make a list of adjectives and descriptive phrases, and then craft sentences to build a description. If you are working on strong verbs, find an action oriented photo and begin by listing action words. Start with simple skills like these, and then move to skills like alliteration, metaphor, personification, or abstract attributes.

After the interactive model, provide students with individual picture prompts or place an array of magazine photos at a center and allow students to choose a picture and complete a craft-based descriptive writing activity. Younger writers should focus on a single skill for this activity, but intermediate student can handle applying two or three skills at the same time. As students become proficient writers, picture-prompted writing can include genre organization, composing skills, conventions and writing process steps, too. 

Put pen to paper and stay creative,

Susan Koehler


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