I have seen thousands of digital projects in the last 25 years and a favorite is having students design multi-modal informative how-to's! For starters, procedural writing can be incorporated in any grade level or subject area. It empowers students to become the teacher/expert, motivating students to complete high-quality work. And, let's face it, we can only teach someone else content if we have mastered it first, which inevitably helps us remember the information more effectively in the future.
Win, Win, Win!
The following ideas share how you can use how-to writing to help students practice sequencing, remediate and retain skills, and create inspiring Public Service Announcements.
Using recipes to get the writing juices flowing
Recipes are a familiar and accessible resource you can use to introduce students to procedural writing. They are also a great way to help students use descriptive language to convey texture and tastes and share meaningful family recipes and traditions.
Students can start with a blank canvas in Wixie to share instructions for things like how to make lemonade, a grilled cheese sandwich, or even a healthy salad. Or, you can have students use this how-to recipe template to help structure and support their thoughts and writing.
Search "recipe" in Wixie to find a variety of festive and seasonal recipe designs your students can also use as backgrounds for their writing.
Inspiring how-to writing through drawings and poetry
Having students write sequential steps for drawing a simple object is also a great way to get students interested in procedural writing and undoubtedly will increase their drawing skills at the same time. Many students may not view themselves as artists. So, you can always start by showing them books like How to Draw 101 Things by Sophia Elizabeth to show them shortcuts for great and simple drawings.
Read the children's book ISH by Peter Reynolds to encourage students to let go of any fears they may have about themselves as artists. Lean into the joy and freedom of creating imperfect, "ish-like" drawings they can share with others!
You can also use poetry frames, like this Monster Rhyme Cloze Poem, to get students excited about writing their own how-to creations for others to follow. Once they have completed the monster poem and drawing, they can modify the poem and steps with a person, place, or object of their choosing.
Designing how-tos to train the brain
You can also use how-to writing to remediate and retain skills and formulas. When was the last time you did 8th-grade math? If you are like me, you may still rely on awesome mnemonics, like PEMDAS, to remember the order of operations. Tap into this strategy by having students create their own short how-to-mnemonic-style tutorials to remember important grammar or math rules.
Writing how-to public service announcements to make a difference
The persuasive nature of a PSA makes them an ideal how-to writing assignment to promote and encourage students to share information they are passionate about.
Whether they are trying to save an endangered species or promote safe habits, students can use this format to get others interested in a topic they care about and, in doing so, make the world a better place!
"How-to" get started
An assignment that no one but you will see only serves as a temporary solution to the learning at hand. Writing and creating how-to procedures mean students learn and everyone can benefit from for a lifetime!
So, the next time you are tasked with creating an assignment and the stakes of retaining the content are elevated, remember the how-to assignment and the wise proverb that says..
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."