Procedural writing can be challenging for English language learners. Therefore, it should be scaffolded and the ESL teacher should come up with support activities to help students understand what are procedural text features and how to write a proper procedure. Recently, I took part in a professional development workshop with Gini Rojas. She is listing three types of procedural text for different purposes:
1) Text that explain how something works or how to use an instructional manual (how to use a video)
2) Texts that instruct how to do a particular activity (recipes, science experiments)
3) Texts that deal with human ability ( how to live happily)
Gini Rojas also lists the linguistic features of this text type:
- The purpose is clearly stated at the beginning
- The steps are used in chronological order
- Each type of a procedural text has a for a format and method (recipe vs. scientific experiment)
- Imperatives are used directly (You should turn off the computer) or indirectly (Turn of thee computer).
- Verbs are active and in simple present tense
- Detailed information is given on how, where, when
- Detailed factual information is given (shape, size, color amount)
Reference: Virginia P. Rojas, VPRojas@aol.com
My colleague and I took into consideration all the above information and we put together a co-teaching lesson plan for a 4th grade class that is currently discussion the scientific methods and its parts.
We decided to divide it into three activities:
Activity 1) Students advise the teacher how to put a sweater on.
The teacher made sure to follow the students’ directions thoroughly. If the directions were not clear, the teacher would do something the way she understood it. The activity created a lot of amusing situations and the students learned very quickly that they have to be very detailed with their orders.
Activity 2) Students in groups have to organize slips with different steps of a scientific procedure
During this activity, students learned that procedural writing needs to be logical and to make sense.
Activity 3) Students work in pairs. They have to write up their own procedure how to fold a paper airplane.
Here, the students applied their knowledge from the previous two activities. They created a detailed and logical procedural with visual cues. After they finished their procedure, they asked another group to follow their procedure and to build an airplane!
The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how to write a detailed procedure that makes sense!
Below you can find attached the procedure for Activity 2 – you just need to print the procedure, and cut it into slips!