I introduced this unit the same way I introduce virtually everything - a great mentor text. In this case, I used How to Babysit a Grandpa.
This book is so much fun to read aloud. I love using it as a mentor text because it is full of specific details and examples. Here is one of my favorite pages.
After reading the book to students, I modeled how to brainstorm topics. We completed the organizer below with our areas of expertise.
The next day, students brought their expert brainstorming sheet to the carpet. I modeled how to select a topic and narrow it if needed. I originally had "Taking care of a dog" on my expert sheet. I explained to students how that was too broad. I narrowed it down to how to feed a dog.
After narrowing my topic, I modeled how to use this graphic organizer to plan my writing.
After they saw me model the process, students highlighted the topic from their expert organizer that they thought would work best. Then they got to work on planning their own How to writing.
We are now in the final stages of this writing project. The organizer has been a great help during writing conferences throughout the process. In the beginning, it helped students make sure they could choose an appropriate topic and identify steps. Later, we referred to the organizer to talk about transitions and going step by step. Next year, I plan on doing a little more modeling and conferencing with students prior to beginning drafts. I think that will save me some time in the long run, especially with students who originally chose a topic that was too broad.
If you are interested in using these organizers for your own classroom, you can download the expert brainstorming sheet here and the planning graphic organizer here.
Thank you and have a great week!