Are you tired of telling your students to add details to their writing only to be met with blank stares? Writing is such a complex process. They aren’t being rude; they just don’t know how to add details to writing. Our students will only be successful with systematic and explicit instruction and meaningful practice.
Our writing program takes care of the explicit and systematic instruction. You can check that out here.
Now, it is time to focus on practice. How do you get your students to practice adding details to their writing? You make it super clear.
Writing is all about sharing information, so what kind of information can we share?
We can describe things using adjectives. There is definitely a place for that, but you don’t want your students getting in the habit of slapping adjectives onto their boring, monotonous sentences. We have lessons on adjectives in our writing program.
For this activity, we want them to focus on information that matters: who, what, where, when, why, and how. This information leads to exciting sentences. Interesting sentences lead to interesting stories and essays.
Here is the chart:
There are several things I want you to notice. First, we provided a very boring, simple sentence. She ran. This sentence really doesn’t tell us much.
Who was she? A girl, a woman, maybe a female animal…
What did she do? Run
Where did she run? Across a field, through the mall, on the deck of a pirate ship…
When did she run? In the middle of the night, after she stole the treasure, before the ship left the dock…
Why did she run? She was being chased, she loves running, she was trying to catch something…
How did she run? Quietly, quickly, like the wind…
You can see how the details a student chooses will create an entire story from this one boring sentence.
The Steps for Teaching How to Add Details to Writing
- Give students the worksheets. You could also project the worksheet and have students write in their notebooks to save paper. Read them the starter sentence.
- Have students sit quietly for a few minutes, imagining what could happen based on the sentence. This may take some practice for your less imaginative students, so you will want to model it for them.
- Let students share their ideas. Talking is a vital part of the writing practice we seldom allow students to engage in.
- Students will record their ideas using the chart. As you can see from my example, there are tons of ways to complete the chart.
- Students will use their chart to write one or more sentences that expand on the boring sentence.
Here is an example of possible sentences based on: She ran.
The mother mouse ran quickly across the dark field. It was midnight, but she knew her children were up waiting for her to bring them the medicine they desperately needed. It had taken her nearly all day to cross the field to the stream where the purple flowers grew. Inside the flowers were tiny seeds that would cure the rasping coughs that plagued her children.
Obviously, this is not the expectation for younger students, but with practice; your students will write things you could never have imagined.
Of course, they will need more than just practice adding details to their writing to become accomplished writers. They will need a systematic and explicit writing program. Did I mention you can find ours here?
I want every student in the world to have the opportunity to learn to write well. That is why I am giving you these pages to help you teach your students how to add details to writing for free.
In this set, you get ten different boring sentence pages and one blank page so that you can write any sentence you choose for your students. This is an especially powerful way to teach how to add details to your science and social studies units. Imagine these sentences…
George Washington fought.
Think about how much content your students would have to engage with to add details to these sentences!