In my previous post, I talked about using a pre-writing strategy called the What-Why-How to teach students how to write Book Reviews (Using the What-Why-How to Write Book Reviews). When using the W-W-H, I often find that students struggle with finding the right details to support their reasons. To help my students come up with stronger supporting details, I give a mini-lesson on The 3 E's (Examples, Evidence, and Explanation).
Adding Detail with The 3 E's
When I see students only writing 1-2 details in the How column of the W-W-H, I know it's time to introduce The 3 E's. For many of my students, 1-2 details simply isn't enough support to clarify their reasons for why they've chosen to review a particular book.
First, I explain what The 3 E's are and have students write these notes down.
- Examples = personal experience
For a Book Review, an Example that includes details in the form of personal experience might sound like this:
At times, reading Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac was challenging because the author uses words written in Navajo. I do not speak Navajo. While I've heard Navajo spoken before, I have no idea how to pronounce the words I've read. However, the words are unique, unlike any words in other languages. Their accent marks and the way some words seem split into parts sets them apart from English words which rarely have accent marks.
- Evidence = details from "real" text (for a Book Review, this will be excerpts from the original text. For other types of writing, this may include facts, statistics, data).
For the same Book Review of Code Talker, this piece of Evidence would work well:
Within this excerpt, readers can see the Navajo words the author uses. I'd use this passage to support a reason like:
Joseph Bruchac includes many Navajo words, which gives Code Talker authenticity.
- Explanation = Sometimes simply asking students, "How do you know that's true?" works. Other times, we ask ourselves, "How does it happen? Why does it happen?" And we keep asking ourselves these same questions until we can't ask them anymore. The answers become our Explaining details.
My Explaining details for the excerpt pictured above might sound like this:
By including Navajo words as he narrates his story, readers feel Ned Begay's pride for his culture. Using his Navajo language (an "unbreakable code") Ned and his "brothers" are able to help the U.S. defeat the Japanese during WWII. Through Ned's pride, readers understand how much he honors the traditions that have been taught to him. Bruchac's inclusion of Navajo words and phrases bring a truthfulness to Ned's storytelling--storytelling that is at the very essence of Navajo culture.
When I first introduce my students to the 3 E's, I ask them to pick one of the E's to work with. This way they don't get too overwhelmed. I want to see them master one before trying to work with the others. Once I've seen them create solid details with one E, I have them try the others. Again, assessing their details as they go. For those students who want a challenge, I have them try to incorporate all 3 types of details within their Book Review (or other piece of writing we may use them with).
What I like best about The 3 E's is that I can introduce them to my students in the pre-writing stage of the writing process to help them add detail to support their reasoning. Using this quick fix early in the writing process will save us time in the Revising stage later on. I often say to my students, "We can do most of our thinking now, or we can think hard later. You pick."
A Revising Tool, Too
In the Revising stage, I can re-teach the 3 E's in another mini-lesson for those students lacking details in their Book Reviews. Or, in the Revising stage, we can assess our drafts for details. Then, we can go back to those details that aren't working and add/change/delete them using The 3 E's.
While I've discussed using The 3 E's with the What-Why-How and writing Book Reviews, this strategy can be used alone, with other strategies, and with other types of writing.
*Excerpt from Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac.
Portions of this article are © Copyright 1995-2012 by Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc., and are used by permission. For more information, and free teaching materials, visit www.ttms.org or contact Margot Lester at firstname.lastname@example.org.