Descriptive paragraph scaffolds, models and practice exercises.
Summary: Using semantic feature analysis-based scaffolds to help students to practice writing interesting and descriptive paragraphs about functional topics, supporting Think, then Write Volume 2 (Paragraphs) or as a standalone resource, with step-by-step support for each of the 20 writing exercises.
Students need well-developed oral and written expressive descriptive skills to:
- give detailed recounts;
- relay procedures;
- tell stories;
- give explanations;
- compare and contrast things;
- discuss academic subjects;
- converse with friends and peers; and
- communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs to others at school and in life.
Many students – including many students with language and learning challenges – have difficulties describing objects in detail – especially in writing. Some students resort to describing things with strings of generic adjectives, e.g. nice, pretty, good, bad, big, etc., and few verbs, resulting in static, boring descriptions.
This resource is designed to help!
In this 95-page resource, we provide tools to provide students with a structured way to describe things around them using semantic feature analysis (SFA). Describing objects by key attributes using SFA is an evidence-based strategy to learn new vocabulary and word meanings.
SFA can deepen students’ understanding of words they already know. The strategy can also help children with word-finding or other language or learning difficulties, e.g. by giving them a way of describing what they mean when they can’t find the specific word.
This no-preparation pack is designed to help students use semantic feature analysis to help them plan and write descriptive paragraphs about objects in the real world. In designing this scaffold, we have selected two sets of attributes that we have found clinically to be of the greatest use in describing, defining and understanding common objects, namely:
- key relational and perceptual features, including function (what you do with it, or what it does), category, location, parts, materials, colours, shapes, and size; and
- sensory attributes, including what objects look, sound, smell, feel and taste like.
We have focused the design of this resource on helping students to write descriptive paragraphs using semantic features of objects to help generate and structure their ideas. To that end, we include models of descriptive paragraphs to show students exactly how to go about writing descriptive paragraphs.
To make the resource functional – and to reduce the background knowledge load and need for external research – we have organised the topics around six themes: function (school), family, fitness, fun, friends, and future.
We use this resource in our speech pathology clinic everyday and hope you find it useful too!