Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bend 1 Session 6 (Research)

Session 6: Envisioning Structures to Plan an Information Book

The great writer Annie Dillard describes the work of structuring as building a vision.

She compares it to what a painter does as he stands before a canvas.  

She says "First you shape the vision of what the projected work of art will be."  She says the vision is no marvel thing.  It is apt to be "just a page or two or legal paper filled with words and questions; a terrible diagram, a few books' names in a margin, a doodle..." She calls these "memos from the thinking brain."

 Today I want to teach you that writers of information books construct an image of the text they will write by envisioning several possible ways to use or combine essential structures into a working plan.

Remember when we talked about how while researching a subject you think, "What about this topic is important?" - and that question leads you from one topic to a more focused subtopic - leading to a trail of research? 

Well - that occurs for readers too and that thinking could end up as the start to a table of contents for a book!

Here's one possible table of contents:

A Table of Contents that follows the pathway of Research-

Chapter 1: Teen Activism
Chapter 2: Malala
Chapter 3: Girls being denied Education
Chapter 4: People who are helping the cause

This is just a beginning outline - now you must think about the order and how at makes sense.
Should we start with Malala... and then end with teen activism?

Also - think about the amount of information you have to say about each part.  Do you have enough for a whole chapter?  Should you divide anything or combine chapters?

The table of contents quickly becomes your work plan!

Active Engagement:

Right now, start jotting down a really quick table of contents for the information book you'll be writing.

Now let's talk about different ways to organize (text structures) your book.

Common Structures for Information/Nonfiction Texts 
(write on chart paper)

  • Problem/Solution (chapters on the problem, chapters on the solution)
  • Chronology (what happened first, next, what could happen in the future)
  • List/Boxes (write about one person/project after another, probably handling each similarly)
  • Classification (propose that there are different kinds of a thing, different categories, then discuss each)
  • Definition (claim that something is a word {i.e. a hero}, give examples, contrast with non-examples, to prove your point)
  • Trail of Research
Work with someone from your research group to imagine how your topic could fit into one of these structures... then try a different structure.


You have a tentative Table of Contents and you've imagined a possible structure...

Now what chapter are you most ready to write?

Do you need to draft a 'mini-table-of-contents' for that chapter?

*pass out note sheet on writing information chapters*

Get together with your writing partner Partner 1: You are the writing teacher- Read your partner's chapter.  
Your job is to give your partner a work plan for how they'll revise their chapter.

*Don't forget to complement what you see that's great writing!

Then switch roles.


*Finish/Revise the chapter you've worked on today.
*Revise by writing another draft of your chapter
*Do more research so you are able to write a new chapter tomorrow

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