Saturday, January 19, 2008

Functional Writing

     Good evening all!  Well, we have now moved on to the 3rd Nine Weeks.  Wow, time really does fly when you are having fun.  We have begun our genre study in writing on procedural/functional writing.  In other words, the students are learning to write "how to's."  
     In class we have been focusing on the standards of functional writing and methods that can be used to meet the standards.  The students even have a copy of the teaching and learning rubric in their sourcebook which they can refer to to help them meet the standards.   I am also posting the teaching and learning rubric here for parents to refer to when helping their children.
     By the end of the year, we expect 2nd graders to produce a narrative procedure that:
  • establishes a context for the piece
  • identify the topic 
  • show the steps in an action in enough detail to follow them
  • include relevant information
  • use language that is straightforward and clear; and
  • frequently use pictures to illustrate the steps in the procedure. 
Now that I have outlined the standards for functional writing, I will outline the strategies we will use in class to write pieces that meet or exceed the standards.  
     First of all, in establishing the context, the students will think about the audience they are writing the piece for.  Your audience makes a difference in how you present a set of instructions.  To establish a context, the students will also need to give a "because" or a reason for writing the piece.  Finally, to establish the context, students will need to write engaging beginnings as they did in narratives.   They can do this by asking questions, using alliteration, using similes, using metaphors, and other literary techniques.
     Next, the students will need to establish a topic for the functional writing.  To do this, we will focus on selecting a topic of interest.  We will also focus on making sure the title matches the topic.  One of the biggest reasons a student does not do well on the FCAT Writes is because they go off-topic.  We will be focused on remaining on topic.
    Students will also be expected to show the steps in an action in enough detail to follow them.  We will accomplish this by sequencing the steps.  We will also chart descriptive words and vivid verbs.  The students have also practiced this aspect of the standard with our ice cream activity.  Transitional words and writing appropriate endings will also be addresses.  
     Including relevant information will be taught by discussing what is relevant versus irrelevant.  Examples will be provided as an example for the students.  The students will also be reminded to stay on the topic.  As I said earlier, students going off-topic on the FCAT Writes result in a much lower score.
     In functional writing, the language must be straightforward and clear in order to meet the standard.  Examples of clear language will be demonstrated through whole class writings.  Concrete language as well as specific language will also be shown to the students to help them to meet this standard.
     Finally, the students must use pictures to illustrate steps in the procedure.  Teaching this point will include lessons on show and tell, using charts, using graphs, using arrows, using bullets and labeling.  As with all writing, examples of pieces that meet and/or exceed the standard will be shown to the students.  
     Well, that is all for now.  Have a nice weekend!


Anonymous said...

thanks mrs Cowan so much.i have an exam on momday and yuor piece on functional writing has assisted me so much.thanks once again.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs. Cowan, I am a third grade teacher and I was just checking out this blog entry on funtional writing. We are about to do a functional writing piece and I was wondering what Writing Program your district was following.

Anonymous said...

Uh....I'm not in this class and I have no clue who you are but...hi!(: