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Writing Good Details

Found in: pairing and grouping; written composition

I use a six-day activity to help students see the importance of using good details in writing.

  1. Day One: students draw a picture of a monster, unusual animal or funny face. They show no one the drawings, which I collect.
  2. Day Two: I return the drawings, and students list, on a 5x8 lined note card, as many details as they can that would help someone else draw the same picture. I stress using good adjectives and drawing in sequence. I collect the cards and pictures (with the student’s name on both).
  3. Day Three: I pair students together and have them exchange their details card. I keep the drawings until later. Each partner tries to duplicate the original drawing, using only the details card. They may not ask me or their partner any questions. When this drawing is done, they put their name and "2" at the bottom, indicating they are the second person to draw this picture.
  4. Day Four: I staple both pictures to a large piece of paper, along with the details card. Now is the moment the students have been waiting for, as the second artist gets to look at the original. What a riot! I now have the second artist write a friendly letter to the original artist and give their opinion of the details they were given. They must use compliments as well as constructive criticism. We address envelopes and include an inside address on the letter. We use row and seat number as the street address.
  5. Day Five: I deliver the pictures and mail to the original artist to see how well their details worked. Another letter is written to the second artist to indicate what the original artist thought of how the details were followed and how the second artist could improve.
  6. Day Six: Partners meet on this day. Finally they design a piece of a classroom quilt that I will later put on the wall. Each team gets a square of white paper as their piece of the quilt. I ask them to record their names on it and create a special design that tells something about them and sharing ideas.



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