If I had to choose my top two favorite seasons, autumn and spring are very close. Even though I’m a fall girl through and through, the mild temperatures, the bright flowers, the cool breezes, and persistent sunshine make me a happy fan of spring.
To welcome this season into my classroom and to allow my students to glean the benefits from this beautiful time of the year, I plan on having students complete a descriptive essay about spring very soon. A descriptive essay is a detailed written account describing something or an experience. In October, my middle school students completed a descriptive essay about fall, and they did a wonderful job. Let’s dive in and I will show you my lesson plans about descriptive writing in the spring for next week in my sixth and seventh grade English classes.
Even though students have been learning figurative language and sensory words all year long, it is a good idea to specifically go over this again in preparation for descriptive writing. I plan on spending one day going over common figurative language that is present in descriptive writing, from similes to metaphors, from symbolism to alliteration.
Next, ahead of time, I will give my students the specific rubric for the essay for students to see the requirements.
Take a look at the rubric I will be using for this spring descriptive essay.
We will go over the specific figurative language requirements, such as using at least one simile and one metaphor. Students also have to use sensory words that touch on all five senses. By giving out rubrics ahead of time, students can see their goals and strive to meet them in the writing process.
After going over figurative language and the rubric, I will take students on a spring scavenger hunt outside. What student doesn’t love to get outside on a warm, sunny day?
If it is absolutely impossible to take your students outside, then bring the outside indoors. Turn on an oscillating fan, warm some spring scented oils, and play a YouTube video with nature sounds. I know it isn’t the real thing, however, it is one way to bring nature into your classroom.
For the very scavenger hunt sheet we will be using, please grab last week’s blog freebie here. Also, last week’s blog, 8 Ways to Learn Outdoors, talked all about the benefits of using the great outdoors for lessons. Check that out as well.
As students walk outside, they will be looking for specific parts of nature, observing them up close, and writing down lots of details and sensory words on their scavenger hunt sheet. They’ll focus on their five senses as they take notes on the very objects they will be writing about.
After the scavenger hunt, we will discuss the key parts of a descriptive essay.
The key parts include:
1. Showing, instead of telling.
2. Sensory Words
3. Various Figurative Language
4. Adjectives and Adverbs
5. Emphasis on Onomatopoeia
The last part of the prewriting process was to read various other spring descriptive essays I found online to get an idea of how a descriptive essay was structured. I chose to go simpler with my students and wanted their essays to be three paragraphs, so I chose shorter descriptive essays. We will identify the various figurative language components, adjectives, and sensory words in each essay as they gain inspiration for their own.
Students will spend two class periods writing their rough drafts. I tend to leave them completely alone while they complete this as I want only their thoughts and ideas in raw form to come through.
Students then peer edit with a partner once they’ve completed their rough draft. During peer editing, they fill out a specific peer rubric that matches the final rubric. Students will determine if their peers need more figurative language, sensory words, and that their essay meets all the necessary requirements. Once students get their peer editing rubric back, they can then make the changes needed.
Revising and Edit with the Teacher:
I always make time to sit down and revise and edit one on one with students. Teacher editing is to ensure that if students missed something during the peer editing process, I can catch it on this end. We go through the checklist again, fix any grammar and mechanics, and I give them any tips I have for them to make their essays even more descriptive.
Also, if someone’s writing particularly stands out and has awesome figurative language examples, I will pause the class and share the specific awesome example to help inspire students.
Students then are responsible for fixing any suggestions made by their peers and me. They are responsible for the absolute final part of publishing their paper and ensuring it is as good as it can be.
Students can copy and paste their final essay into this spring writing slides for an easy print-out. If your students have been handwriting the essay, they can then write their final draft on this spring paper as well.
Last fall, when I did descriptive writing, students painted a scene from their essay. This can be another step to complete, or students can simply draw a scene as well.
Descriptive essays, with the right formula, can be a fun and simple writing assignment for students. By incorporating teaching figurative language, the writing process, a scavenger hunt, and the great outdoors, students can really dive into a detailed and well-written essay.