I read these drawing directions--repeating each step once slowly after reading through the entire instruction first--and students attempt to draw from my step-by-step writing. As I said, the half not drawing are there to monitor the progress/mistakes of a drawer based on the visual I have projected for their eyes only.
When I am done with the last direction, the students who drew turn around to compare their own attempts to my original, which is still projected. They discuss where they messed up with the non-drawing student who watched them make their attempt to follow my directions. Then, they suggest improvements to my instructions.
I show them Dena (my wife's) attempt at drawing to my instructions and ask students if they can relate to any mistakes she made. From these two discussions, students formulate an opinion about what makes a good set of instructions for drawing a simple monster.
Next, students have five to eight minutes (no more!) to draw and add simple color to their simplistic picture of an original monster; students can't base monsters on any pre-existing creature they know about.
Next, on day two, students write out step-by-step instructions that would help someone else replicate the monster on a blank piece of typing paper. This will take extra time for some students (but not all of them) so have something differentiated ready for the students who move through the writing a bit quicker than the others. I like to encourage them to add both numbers and similes to their drafts, if they're truly done early.
Typing up of instructions is optional, but if you want students to actually revise after sharing, then having them typed would be ideal. My students don't type theirs even though my directions are typed.
With their monster drawing concealed, my students take turns sharing their directions in their writing groups of 4 students. While each artist shares his/her directions, the other three students (without peeking at each other's work) carefully try to follow the directions. When done with a monster, immediately share the drawings, laugh, and make suggestions to the person who'd created the directions.
Repeat this process until all four members of the group have shared their directions. When all is said and done, I spread this lesson out over three days:
- On day 1, we do the demonstration with my model, critique my instructions, and we draw our own monsters.
- On day 2, we write out our directions. Students wrestle with using too many details and using details that might be too specific.
- On day 3, we share our directions and draw each other's monsters. They will laugh a lot this day!
Below, find the write-up from Dena that I used when I made my adaptations to her original idea.
Dena's Monster/Classroom Directions -- Unlike my husband, I have my students switch direction pages and quietly read each other's descriptions, so I structure my lesson a bit differently. It is very important that they do not switch drawings at the beginning. (Students should keep drawings hidden in their binders until the big reveal! #NoSpoilers!)
Day One-- Begin by talking about why accuracy when writing expository types of writing is important. Let the students give examples of writing that would be bad if the step-by-step directions where unclear or inaccurate (Instruction manuals, recipes etc). Tell them the learning task they are doing today is a prime example of showing accuracy through use of details.
Next, do a practice monster with student writers. Read your set of directions aloud and have them also displayed on your Smartboard as well. This will keep you from having to repeat them. Once they have completed their drawings, I reveal the original drawing of my monster (at right--click on it because it's a printable PDF), and we critique my directions.
- Where could they have been clearer?
- Were they confused by any direction in particular?
- What advice would you give this author/direction writer about how to improve?
Right at right, you can see my husband's attempt at following my directions. Click on the image to open it as a printable PDF for classroom use. I was tempted to improve my written directions after seeing his mistakes, but I chose not to fix them because I wanted there to be minor mistakes in my directions that students could provide feedback for.
Next, I have them draw their own monsters on an unlined piece of typing paper and prepare to write their directions neatly on a lined piece of paper. Absolutely no famous or already-known monsters can be used; this is about pure creativity and originality. I tell them they can either begin by drawing their monster first or write directions and draw at the same time. Most students will get about half way completed the first day. To avoid them creating monsters that are too small, require their monsters to take up--at least--half the page.
Day Two-- Have students finish up their monsters and directions. I start pairing up students as they finish, so that some may have the opportunity to attempt to draw more than one monster with a different partner.
Students are handed their partner's written directions and sent to their seats to draw. I remind them that the drawings do not have to be perfect. They shouldn't spend more than 10 minutes on them.
Once both partners have drawn using their partner's directions, I have them reveal the original drawings to each other. Students will compare and contrast the two drawings. Next, they discuss where the other student could add more information to their directions to make them even more accurate.
Finally, I have each student write a reflection of this activity and process where they could improve for next time, making sure they use the information their partner shared about their drawing.
I hope you have enjoyed our two-voiced method of presenting this month's writing lesson.