Social Studies Strands: Government and Civics, Geography, Economics, History, Culture
Using this strategy in Kindergarten and building on it throughout the elementary years will be especially helpful for students’ writing ability.
- Deep learning
- Students will read articles with greater purpose while looking for the main idea and supporting details.
- Higher student achievement
- This is a technical writing activity on an elementary school level. If students can master this technique in elementary school, their writing assignments throughout secondary education will not be as daunting.
- After students engage in an inquiry-based activity, such as “See, Think, Wonder,” this writing activity can reinforce learning.
- Use this activity as a get-to-know-you for each student to help them find positive attributes about one another and build relationships.
What: (Description of the Strategy)
This is a great way to help students write a paragraph without realizing they are writing. The idea behind the “Most Important Book” is a writing strategy in the form of a Circle Poem:
The transition leads you back to the main idea (In elementary school, this transition will be one word, but as students grow and develop, this will evolve into a well-defined summary paragraph.)
How: (How to set up the Strategy)
Help students understand what being positive means and have a discussion with them about the importance of saying positive things about the people around them.
K-1 classrooms will most likely want to do this activity as a whole class, while 2-5 can use this activity as a more independent writing assignment.
The teacher should start by introducing this strategy as a ”getting to-know-you” whole class activity. The whole class will create a “Most Important Book” about each student. In Kindergarten, a paraprofessional or parent helper does the writing.
It may look something like this:
- Main idea
- The most important thing about Shayna is that she is a good friend.
- Supporting details, or evidence
- She walks to the bus with me.
- She shared her pencil with me.
- When I fell down, Shayna helped me.
- BUT the most important thing about Shayna is that she is a good friend.
After students understand the process, select a Studies Weekly article, and help students identify the main idea and the supporting details. With this kind of writing foundation in K-1, student writing will improve in the grades that follow.
Face to Face Application of the Strategy:
- Explain the activity and show several examples of circle poems. Usually examples will include things in the classroom that students can plainly see and understand the importance of, for example: a pencil, a table, the whiteboard, etc.
- After several examples, demonstrate how it can be used as a get-to-know-you activity, taking time to explain what positive attributes are and making sure students only include kind words.
- The class will then create a “Most Important Book” for each student in the class. The number of students in the class will determine the number of days needed to complete the activity. Try to complete a “Most Important Book” for each student in one week.
- After students understand the process for the “Most Important Book,” the process can be transferred to a Studies Weekly article.
- Choose a Studies Weekly article and read the article together as a class.
- Discuss what the main idea might be and allow students to provide their ideas and reasons.
- Help students determine the supporting details or evidence to support their main idea.
- Students then choose a transition word and restate the main idea.
This is technical writing in an elementary format and will help create a great writing foundation for students to build on.
Digital Application of the Strategy:
This activity will be completed the same way in a distance learning classroom by presenting on a virtual platform. Perhaps allow students to choose something they see in their home on which to practice the technique. Display the answers on the virtual platform as the students watch and add comments.