Step 1: Model Visual Thinking Strategies
“Today you will illustrate your animal’s habitat on the habitat page and diet on the diet page. You will also write what you know about your animal’s diet and habitat, label its body parts, and write a fun fact. Remember to take your time and add details.”
Demonstrate for students how to observe a photograph of a Maine animal habitat using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). Think out loud as you describe the shapes and lines you see and the details you notice. Begin to draw the habitat for students to see.
Step 2: Drawing and writing: Student’s choice
Teaching Tip: Students do not need to complete all writing in one block of time and all illustrations in another. They can write and draw fluidly. Communicate to students that all parts—drawing and writing—need to be completed.
Drawing like a scientist:
Have students use reference materials as they use a pencil to draw the different parts of their book on their respective pages: body parts, diet, and habitat. Encourage students to take their time and add detail.
Using writing to educate:
Students will label their animal’s body parts and write what they know about its diet and habitat on each pre-lined page. Then they will add a fun fact about their animal.
Step 3: Partner critique
Talk to students about how great writers share their writing with a colleague to help find ways they can make it even better. Using questioning and discussion techniques, students will share their work with a partner, give one compliment, and make one suggestion. The author should consider their partner’s suggestion but does not have to follow it. When each partner has had a turn to critique, they can choose to revise their books. Students should make at least one change.
Step 4: Touch it up
After a teacher has approved their work, students will:
- Go over their pencil lines with permanent marker.
- Carefully erase their pencil lines.
- Add color using markers.
- Invite students to use a small circle cut-out of white paper to create a small drawing of the face of their animal for the cover of their book.
- Provide a Maine animals coloring station or the animal memory match game for early finishers.
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