This handout will challenge students in grades 5-8 to put into practice the writing teacher's reminder to "Show, don't tell." Students will build, in layers (guided by the format of the handout) a character with details that simultaneously reveal aspects of the plot. The handout calls attention to the use of only those "showing" details that propel the plot with the fewest possible, but strongest words. Referring to Susan L. Lipson's "D.A.D. Technique" for writing memorable words, this lesson offers a memorable mnemonic and hands-on practice of a technique they can best understand via implementation.
This is a short lesson, which would be most fun and rewarding when used in a workshop format, for cooperative learning and sharing aloud. I advise you to have students read EACH OTHER'S short scenes aloud, rather than their own, for the following reasons: 1) a writer always expands his/her capacity for objective self-criticism (and subsequent revision) while listening to someone else read and interpret her/his words; 2) any writer finds it gratifying to hear his/her words read aloud when a teacher encourages brief applause following each reading. In short, the workshop format celebrates the communication goal of writing by allowing the writer to see how his/her words affect others.