Well, I may have found the solution!
I ran across this video awhile back, and decided to show it to my students to see what their reaction might be. They were amazed to see what a six year old was capable of as an artist. I asked them, what things stood out to you?
"He made six drafts."
" He kept working until it got better and better."
"His friends helped him to make it better."
"If a first grader could do this couldn't fourth graders?"
"Could we translate this to our writing as well?"
They were up to the challenge. We decided to add some scientific pictures to our animal reports. Once they learned how to critique each other's drawings (and how to use that feedback to improve) we would use those skills to edit our writing.
Some of the students were clearly inspired by the video to research butterflies.
I was blown away by the amount of care that went into their drawings (some even pulled out their cell phones to match details). Their feedback was amazing and clear too. No one said, "It's great." and no one said. "That's awful." Instead the feedback was clear and direct, "You need to angle this a little more, look at it carefully." No one took offense to the suggestions (not even my most sensitive souls) - they all reacted by saying things like, "You're right, I'll go try that!"
And they did!
Here are a few other animals in progress:
We are still working on the drawings and reports, so I will share more as they progress. I just wanted to share what happened so far in case it is something you would like to use with your students.
I am linking up with Erin at Loving Lit for her monthly Thursday Throw Down. I get some of the best ideas and inspiration from these posts - I hope you do too!