K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn to develop a planning web, include descriptive vocabulary, compose a rough draft, and a final copy.
  • learn to sequence steps in a procedure, using signal words to order the steps.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 Days


  • A children’s book about a making a snowman
  • Chart paper for group story to be modeled
  • A sheet of paper for each child with a planning web drawn. (A circle in the center with six lines drawn out will work or any other form the teacher likes to use.)
  • Plain paper for rough drafts
  • First grade writing paper for final copies
  • Drawing paper for illustrations
  • Transparency with web drawn for modeling
  • Rubric for Instructional Writing (attached below)
  • Blank transparencies for listing words


Students should be familiar with composing sentences, writing in journals, and other activities appropriate for the first half of first grade. This lesson will be most appropriate following a snowfall.


Day 1

  1. Read a book about building a snowman to the class.
  2. Create a class story on chart paper about how to build a snowman. Emphasize a chronological sequence of steps and signal words: first, second, next, then, last, etc.

Day 2

  1. Review class instructions. Point out that they need to add describing words such as adjectives and adverbs to help people make the snowman exactly right. For example, if you have written “Put a carrot in the head for a nose”, bring 3 different carrot noses (such as a long carrot, a small baby carrot, and a carrot slice). Tell class that they will need to revise their instructions if they want to use the right carrot for the job.
  2. Give each student an instructions web sheet. Use the overhead projector to model how to complete the web. Write the title in the center and one web line at a time with the class.
    • Example: Write “eyes” on a line. Add the kind of eyes you will use. Ask the students what they might use for eyes. List a few and let them copy their choice on their web lines for eyes. Then, move to the next line on the web, continuing to identify the part of the snowman and what will be used to make it. It is helpful if the children draw a small picture by each line to serve as a rebus cue later.

Day 3

Using one student’s story web, model how to title the story and begin the writing process for the rough draft. Students use their own planning webs to develop a rough draft of their stories. Write rough drafts on plain paper.

Day 4

Some students complete rough drafts while others conference and edit with the teacher. After editing, students begin the final copy.

Day 5

All students should complete final copies and draw pictures of their snowmen.


  • Using the writing criteria for your county and the NCSCOS, assess the students’ writing ability.
  • I assess the rough drafts as unassisted writing in the areas of capitalization, punctuation, correctly spelling sight words, and use of phonetic spelling.
  • I assess the final drafts for handwriting, sequencing, use of descriptive vocabulary, and awareness of changes made during the editing process.

Supplemental information


This lesson can be adapted to any topic. It is a good way to introduce students to instruction writing.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 1
          • 1.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. 1.L.1.1 Print all upper- and lowercase letters. 1.L.1.2 Use common, proper, and possessive nouns. 1.L.1.3 Use singular and plural nouns with matching...
        • Grade 2
          • 2.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. 2.L.1.1 Use collective nouns (e.g., group). 2.L.1.2 Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns (e.g., feet, children, teeth, mice, fish)....
      • Writing

        • Grade 1
          • 1.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
          • 1.W.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of “how-to” books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).
        • Grade 2
          • 2.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.03: Use specific words to name and tell action in oral and written language (e.g., using words such as frog and toad when discussing an expository text).