Of course, you can. It was definitely a trick question. It’s all about routine, practice, expectation, and confidence. If you follow my blog you know I preach and preach about routine. Emergent writers are especially in need of routine and confidence.
Sequencing is as easy as I-2-3.First, teach the routine whole group. Do you have those typical box sets of sequencing pictures? The ones where the students can’t get it wrong and it doesn’t actually show you if they can sequence. Well, don’t throw them out! This is the perfect way to teach a writing lesson on the How To paragraph.
MondayUsing the document camera…show the class the 3 pieces to the puzzle. Students can easily put the pieces in order (and it’s a great time to let a struggling writer feel success). Students will construct the puzzle and orally tell what they see. Get them used to using the words “first, then, and last” as they tell their story.
TuesdayStudents should review the puzzle and orally agree on a sentence for the first piece of the puzzle. If the students tell you a long and drawn out sentence, help them edit it to the basics. Once they get the routine, they can elaborate. Ask your students to write a sentence about each piece of the puzzle. Using the key words “First, Then, and Last” and word wall words, compose “First, we see popcorn.” Of course, you would stretch the sounds in popcorn to help students write this sentence. This might take 10 minutes.
WednesdayStudents will reread Tuesday’s sentence and then decide the “Then” sentence. “Then, we cook it in a pan.” It’s basic. It’s not Julia Child. It’s a process. Make sure to connect “cook” to “look” and “pan” to “can.” Reread the entire passage.
ThursdayStudents will reread Wednesday’s sentence and then decide on the “last” sentence. “Last, we eat the popcorn.” I would tell them about the silent “a” in the word “eat,” but wouldn't make it a lesson or a big deal.
FridayStudents get a copy of the story they have helped write during the week. They can illustrate the puzzle pieces.
Finally, this needs to become a center! That’s right. That’s how this process becomes routine. Students need guaranteed practice with sequencing. Supply the center with a Ziploc bag with a sequence puzzle. Each bag is different. Students take a bag, make the puzzle, write the 3 sentences, then draw the pictures. This center is good for 4 weeks, because they can trade around bags each week. If you really want to get a lot for your time, put 3 complete puzzles in the bags (9 pieces), have the students make all the puzzles, and choose 1 to write about. Now, this center doesn't need to be changed for 9 weeks.
Upping the RigorAs students become more and more proficient with writing the how-to puzzles, it’s time to up the rigor. The rigor can be added by requiring more sentences or by adding another step. First, Then, Next, Last. Students are given a strip of 4 pictures to sequence and adding a “next” step. Pictures are provided, but the students must order the pictures without the safety net of a puzzle.