Writing: Show, Donât Tell
Students will understand the importance of showing, not telling in their writing. Students will be able to show details, instead of telling them, in their writing.
- Introduce the lesson to your students. Start by activating prior knowledge that the students may have of the âshow, donât tellâ strategy. For example, ask how many students make pictures in their heads while they read.
- Then, ask students what words help them paint a picture in their mind. Once a student answers correctly, or a few students made guesses, explain that the writer helps paint this picture with descriptive words, that show readers what is happening, instead of telling them.
- Explaining that the phrase âshow, donât tellâ refers to a writing strategy that is used to give descriptions of characterâs emotions.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Explain that while looking at your studentsâ writing, you often see sentences such as, âI was happyâ and âI was nervous.â These are examples of âtellingâ the reader how you (or the character) is feeling, instead of âshowingâ it.
- Tell the class that when writers âshowâ a feeling, readers can create more accurate and vivid pictures in their minds.
- Pull up a few sample videos, and tell the class that theyâre going to watch the clips, and describe how a person is feeling based on how they act and look. Good examples include Nicki Minaj Sings 'Super Bass' with Sophia GraceBy The Ellen Show, Lilyâs Disney Surprise!By KAftC, and Epic Roller Coaster Fail @ Disney California AdventureBy Ray Valverde.
- Itâs critical that they pay close attention to what each person doesâthey will need to remember the actions that determine how the person is feeling.
- Show video clips to the class, and have students write down actions from the videos and their reactions in their notebooks.
Guided practise(5 minutes)
- Tell the students they will fix their own writing.
- Model an example for the class before students start their individual work. Start by writing a sentence that âtellsâ on the board. For example, write the sentence âShe was excited.â
- Ask the class to fix this sentence to âshowâ the subject is excited, using the words or phrases they wrote down from the video clip.
Independent working time(20 minutes)
- Once the students have fixed the sentence as a class, tell the class to edit their own narrative writing pieces (written prior to this lesson) to âshowâ things.
- Enrichment:Challenge students who are above level to work on word choices during individual conferences, and to use similes and metaphors in their work.
- Support:Arrange students into a small group, and create a âjot listâ of possible words that help writers show, instead of telling. Some possible words include: happy: my mouth widened with a smile; I jumped up and down.
- Review how students have used and applied the strategy to their writing pieces.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Have students share how they have edited their own narrative writing.
- Good writers, today and everyday, will show, not tell, how characters feel.