Big Book of Details: Resource Review

Teach your students some new writing moves.


Photo of Big Book of Details
Photo of Big Book of Details

Writing is hard, and engaging students during writing instruction can be even harder! I love the lessons in The Big Book of Details:46 Moves for Teaching Writers to Elaborate. The lessons in this book by the late Rozlyn Linder are organized into "moves" or ideas students can use to make their writing come alive. The book includes charts that teachers can consult to help them make decisions about which lessons might be useful based on what teachers see in student writing. For example, if students are just adding adjectives in an effort to add detail, the chart lists several moves to try to help students and depth and purpose when writing descriptions. Each chapter is devoted to a "move" and begins with mentor sentences take from children's literature. I think that what sets this book apart from many other resources is that the teaching sequence gives so many ways to present the ideas in concrete ways. The lessons use objects like toys or action figures, charts, and other activities that get students deeply involved as they learn and practice new ideas for writing.

Some of my favorite lessons are "Just Like That" (writing comparisons), "Zoom," (narrowing your focus to enrich your description), and "Act and Think," (writing about a character's thoughts). I used "Right in the Middle" along with our GA ELA standard (ELAGSE6L2a) which requires students to learn how to use commas or dashes to set off non-restrictive/parenthetical elements. Each chapter made me eager to teach a new writing skill, and I loved seeing student work incorporate what they had been taught. This is great resource written by a talented teacher who obviously knew the kinds of lessons that work in real classrooms like mine!