Caribou informational writing prompt with mentor texts: Evidence-based informational writing. Students write an essay that explains how caribou survive the cold weather. They must use information from two different nonfiction passages. Please note that this writing prompt is just part of my growing bundle. Click HERE
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Nowadays, there is a noticeable difference in how students are expected to write their essays on the standardized writing test. Many standardized tests, such as SAGE in Utah, PARCC in New Jersey, and FSA in Florida, require the students to read/listen to multiple texts and then use information from those passages in their writing.
According to the SAGE rubric, students are expected to write essays that are well-organized (this includes writing strong introductions and conclusions), incorporate text evidence, elaborate on their details (this includes using domain-specific vocabulary), and use proper grammar/spelling. This product provides many resources to help you do just that!
To prepare my students for the SAGE test, I don’t hesitate to get them started. From the very beginning, my students are given writing prompts with mentor texts. We practice annotating the texts, and then we practice using that information to write a well-organized, 5-paragraph essay. I use the writing process with each writing prompt. It typically takes me three weeks to get through one writing prompt with the students, especially at the beginning of the year. This product includes a prompt and mentor texts that are both engaging and prepares them for the state test.
There are two different prompts to choose from. The first prompt is what this whole product is centered around. The second prompt is a similar, optional, more difficult prompt than the first. (You can use it with students that need more of a challenge.)
Prompt #1: Caribou live in the Arctic where it is very cold. Write an essay explaining how caribou survive the cold weather. Make sure to use information from both passages in your essay.
Prompt #2 An adaptation is a special characteristic that enables an animal to survive in a particular environment. Caribou, for example, have many adaptations that help them survive in the very cold Arctic. Read the passages about caribou. Use information from both passages to write an essay explaining the adaptations of caribou and how these adaptations help them survive the cold weather of the Arctic.
THE MENTOR TEXTS
This product comes with two unique mentor texts written by me (paired passages.) Both passages are informational texts about caribou.
Passage #1: The first passage begins by explaining the type of environment that caribou live in, and then it explains their behavioral adaptation of migrating. This passage includes a photograph of caribou migrating.
Passage #2: The second passage explains various physical characteristics of caribou and how these characteristics help it live in the tundra. This passage includes 5 photographs. (One of a caribou swimming, one of caribou's split-hooves, one of lichen (what caribou eat), one of caribou sniffing in the snow, and a full body shot of caribou)
In each passage, the paragraphs are numbered and there's a glossary at the end. (Just like the SAGE test in Utah)
This product has quite a few extras! If you buy this product, you will not only be getting a prompt and two mentor texts, but you will also be getting the following: (please click the preview, where I have posted EVERY SINGLE PAGE of this product):
•Day-to-day instructions that explain what I do with the students for 14 days
•4 different rubrics to choose from (I’ve taken information from the SAGE rubric and turned it into one that, I think, is more student-friendly and teacher friendly.)
•Brief descriptions of each rubric so that you can know which one you want to use.
•A schedule that outlines what the students will be doing for the next 3 weeks (the rubric and schedule are things I show the students before we begin writing our essays so they know what is expected of them, how long it will take, and how to be successful.)
•A checklist that the students can use while they write their essays to make sure they are including everything that their essay needs
•Two different graphic organizers to choose from (one is completely blank, while the other one has fill in the blanks to help those who struggle with writing)
•Alternative graphic organizers that are more festive (they write their reasons in a winter hat.)
•Many different types of rough draft paper that you can choose from. (My favorite rough draft paper is the one that has ARMS at the bottom. Many teachers like to use the acronym ARMS when revising with their students.)
•An ARMS handout
•Peer Editing Sheets (I love using these! Instead of having students write all over each others’ papers with red pens, they look for certain criteria and give feedback)
•A sample graphic organizer that has been filled in
•A sample final draft that meets all the requirements to get a really good score on the SAGE test (written by me)
•Decorative lined paper that the students can write their final drafts on (I went a little crazy in this department and there are TONS to choose from)
•Decorative title pages (the students can use these as a cover for their final drafts.)
•A note that can be sent home to parents to announce the completion of their essays and the sharing party that will take place in class
At the end of previous school years, many of my students expressed phrases such as, “Mrs. Lott, thank you for teaching me how to write an essay,” “I like writing now,” “I finally get how to write an essay,” and “I’m not as worried to take the SAGE test because I know what I’m doing.” These comments, of course, brought tears to my eyes. That’s what teaching is all about. Then seeing their SAGE scores brought even more tears to my eyes. All students improved and almost all scored between 400-500, which is proficient. I even had several students score over 500!! :)
Please note that this product does not teach students how to write an essay. The intent of this product is to provide an outline and description of what I do for 3 weeks and the resources I use to do it. If you are interested in how I teach my students to write, follow me on TPT and stay tuned. It is my goal to make product(s) that you can use to teach students how to write very soon!
This product is aligned with the following 3rd grade writing standards:
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.3.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.3.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.3.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as need by planning, revising, and editing.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.3.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.3.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision.) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
This product is aligned with the following 4th grade writing standards:
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.4.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as need by planning, revising, and editing.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.4.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.4.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision.) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
This product is aligned with the following 5th grade writing standards:
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.5.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.5.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.5.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as need by planning, revising, and editing.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.5.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-LIT.W.5.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision.) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
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