Teaching How-To Writing, Part 2!

Crunch, yum, munch! Last week I taught my students the magic of using onomatopoeia and the 5 Senses to spice up their how-to writing about Oreos.

We started with a lesson inspired by Collaboration Cuties; read this poem (below) projected on my whiteboard, then read Honey Honey Lion, which I followed up with Click Clack Moo and Tap Tap Bang Bang. While the students were listening, I had them record onomatopoeia they heard on their recording sheet which you can find here for free!

Next, we used a 5 Senses Graphic Organizer to record adjectives about our Oreo.  I handed out one Oreo to each student, and they were under strict orders not to eat it until they had at least 5 adjectives for looks, smells, sounds, and feels.  I had a couple of icing-swipers, though.  Sneaky, sneaky.  Finally, after the suspense was over, I gave them new Oreos (to be sanitary) and they got to eat those.  It helped to display a list of common adjectives on the projector to give them a starting point- they came up with their own after seeing a few basic ones.  

The next day, all of my students got another Oreo.  I projected my graphic organizer on the board, modeled how to eat my Oreo, think about what I just did, and then write it down, step by step.  Well, that was harder than I thought it would be! I had to talk and eat and write at the same time...not easy. I ended up dropping my Oreo on the floor halfway through, causing my students to erupt with laughter and the next-door teacher to come and see what the problem was! They thought it was so funny, that in at least two of my students' essays it says, "Last, don't drop it on the floor like Mrs. M-C did."

We talked about how, just like our last How-To writing, we need to pretend that our alien friend has never seen Oreos before.  What can we do to make sure that we are making it perfectly easy and clear for him to understand?  My students really take that to heart and are desperate to make the alien understand.

The fourth day, we started our first drafts.  We used an outline from my How to Eat an Oreo Unit to lay out our paragraphs, then flipped back to our steps, materials, and adjectives to fill it all in.

 You can find my entire lesson plan, plus an original poem (different from the one above), a model essay, and the graphic organizers I used in the unit.

When it came time to edit, I taught a (very) mini-lesson on a strategy my teaching partner taught her students, that I think is a fabulous idea.  I only wish I had learned it earlier in the year!  

I made a clean model and a model with number edits-
here's a student checking to see where my number edits should go.

Some of my students had some anxiety when they saw that it was going to be 5 paragraphs, as they are used to writing 2-3 paragraphs tops.  However, presenting it to them in a format they could easily follow, with all their information pulled from organizers they had already written made it much easier for some of my more reluctant writers.

Here are some finished products, and our bulletin board.  My students really enjoyed learning how to "how-to write" and I know they are better writers and more strategic thinkers because of it.

Do you "How-To?" What kind of process writing do you teach in your classes? How do you teach editing? For more great writing ideas, check out my pinterest board! Follow Everyone Deserves to Learn's board ESL Writing on Pinterest.


  1. I love this lesson! Using oreos seems like it really motivated your students. We forget how difficult it can be to explain the simplest tasks sometimes. That first picture of the oreos is making my hungry!

    Eclectic Educating

  2. What a great lesson! I really need some help teaching writing - so thanks!

    Teaching Maths with Meaning

  3. Love this idea of using Oreos in teaching writing! My kiddos would love this! Thanks for sharing!!

    Table Talk with C & C


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