Monday, 9 November 2015

Showing vs. Telling

English teachers often tell their students to "show, not tell."  We know what this means.  But what about our struggling students?  How can we model this for them?

One easy way to talk to students about showing vs. telling is to brainstorm what we might see in certain situations.  Take some very basic sentences that students might write about a character:

-He was sad.
-He felt happy.
-She was scared.
-She felt embarrassed.

Now how can we "show, not tell" in these sentences?

Let's start with the word "sad."  Have the class brainstorm how you might know that someone is sad.  Perhaps they have tears all over their face, they are blowing their nose with a tissue, their bottom lip is trembling... these descriptions "show" sadness instead of stating that someone is sad.

Try a gradual release of responsibility with an activity like this.  First you can show them how you would complete the activity.  For sentence number two, have students share answers as a whole group and you can write down their responses.  For sentence three, have students work together with a partner or in a small group.  Finally, have students brainstorm on the last sentence individually.

Food for thought... how do you help your students to be more descriptive writers?

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