Improving on a first draft: Intriguing introductions

By Tobias Hayden

After a couple of drafting sessions where children have been using their ‘speedy books‘ as plans to write more about their topics, today we began revising.

We concentrated on looking at different ways you might begin a non-fiction text with a mini-lesson titled Intriguing introductions.

One boy’s ‘speedy book’ about The Norris Nuts

As always, I try out the mini-lessons I am going to teach in my own writing journal so I can talk through how I did with the class. Yesterday, I taught a mini-lesson called Write a bit, share a bit and this seemed to improve the overall fluency of the children’s drafting.

The first four paragraphs I drafted in advance, but the final one I decided to do with the children, encouraging them to ask me a few questions to prompt me. When you write something and then share it with an audience, they almost automatically enquire about what you have written, and the kinds of questions they ask often nudge you to think of things that you wouldn’t necesssarily have included under your own steam.

My draft of Soft Play With My Girl (working title)
One boy’s draft of The Norris Nuts

Once you have got your words down then, for me, the fun starts. You get to play around with what you’ve got, add things in, take things out, think about how you want your audience to react, paint with words etc.

Revision is the process when I see the most gains in writing quality, and where I can really focus my teaching on the product goals (either through whole class mini-lessons, or small group/one-to-one pupil conferencing) which were established during our genre-study week.

I picked five typical non-fiction introductions and gave them a whirl

Coming up with ways to start your non-fiction pieces off with a bang is a lot of fun and the children found this lesson really useful. It stimulated a lot of talk and sharing. In fact, today we had a first-timer in our ‘author’s chair’ because he was so happy with what he had produced.

One boy had a go at a couple of openings for his The Norris Nuts information text. He used his ‘trying things out page’.
A class poster showing children a range of options for writing non-fiction introductions.

I must confess that I didn’t know what The Norris Nuts was, but I do now! And that surely is the point of an information text. Coming up, we have a few more sessions allocated for revision before we look to ‘tidy up our pieces’ in preparation for our publishing party.


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