Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Descriptive Writing Mini-Lesson - Gary Hogg Author Visit

Do you wish your students wrote more descriptively?  Is their writing rather ho-hum and boring?  You might want to try this descriptive writing mini- lesson based on a recent Gary Hogg author visit.  You will be amazed at how descriptive their writing will be!

Our school was lucky enough to have an author visit from Gary Hogg.  In addition to his whole school assemblies, he also provided writer's workshops for some of our students.  You can get a brief taste of what he shared in this video below:

During the assembly, he mentioned to the students that they needed to use their author's voice.  I was so impressed with my students' author voices after this quick mini-lesson with Gary.

Gary told the students that authors think twice.  He further explained, sometimes authors use a word that is really a category, but it is not really descriptive.  Examples he gave for categories were ice-cream, dogs, and colors.  He told the students that authors looked back at their writing for categories and made them details instead.  Examples of details might be: mint chocolate ice cream, a fiesty puppy, or sea foam green.

He had the students practice turning categories into details.  You can see a video of this below where he asks the students to give details about dogs.

Since his visit, I have been using this idea as a warm-up from time to time during writer's workshop to get the students really thinking about details.

After this little warm-up he told them that he was going to have them write for 5 minutes.  He had them close their eyes and think of a memory.  He reminded them to think in details rather than categories.  He played a really funky machine that made music as the students thought.  Then he had them put pencil to paper.

You can watch a video of a similar lesson here:

My students were amazed at how much they wrote in only 5 minutes (to be honest, so was I)!

When the 5 minutes were up, he had them draw a line underneath the writing that they had so far.  Then he told them that writers:


He asked them to go back into their writing to find places where they had categories and change them to details.  He told them to write "smart bubbles" below their writing with arrows pointing to where they wanted to add it to the writing.  

To get them really thinking, he asked questions such as:

What day?
Was it morning/afternoon/night?
What was the weather like?
What is your mom's name?
What words could you use to describe your mom.
Where were you at?

Here is an example of a student's writing after answering these questions.

My students were so engaged in revising!  How does this even happen?

Samples of my students' writing:

If you want to find more about Gary Hogg, check out his website and his YouTube page!

If you try this lesson in your classroom, I would love to see pictures!  

Please email me at or tag me on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter!

And... before you go, make sure to visit my Giveaways page to enter our weekly giveaway to win a $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card!

 I would love to hear from you! ❤️

Have a question? Idea for a resource you might find helpful?

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