How-To Writing: Motivating Students to Write for a Real Purpose

This lesson plan provides teachers with step-by-step facilitating instructions, rubrics and graphic organizers, and an interactive essay map for planning how-to writing. Appropriate for third through fifth grades. What do students need to know to succeed in fourth grade (or third or fifth)? What supplies are needed? What rules and steps should be followed? These and many other questions provide the framework for students to write how-to essays for a specific audienceu2014future fourth graders. Although this lesson focuses specifically on fourth grade, it can be easily adapted for third or fifth graders. Students first learn about the how-to writing genre by reading an assortment of instruction manuals. This also demonstrates how how-to writing relates to their everyday lives. The teacher then models each step of the writing process as the students write about how to be successful fourth graders. After students publish their writing, the final drafts are saved for the following year's fourth graders to read at the beginning of the next school year. text taken from site

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0401.3.1
Write for a variety of purposes and to a variety of audiences.
GLE 0401.3.2
Write in a variety of modes and genres (e.g., narration, description, personal expression, imaginative writing, response to literature, response to subject...
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • Recognize that how-to writing is a genre they encounter in their everyday lives
  • Identify the characteristics of the how-to writing genre and incorporate them into a how-to essay about succeeding in the fourth grade
  • Identify the audience for their how-to essay (i.e., future fourth graders) and shape the essay to appeal to this audience
  • Apply the steps of the writing process to complete the how-to essay

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


Students may choose a topic of interest to write another how-to essay. For example, students may choose to write instructions for how to play a board game or a sport that they enjoy.


Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Computer with Internet access and LCD projector
  • Assortment of instruction manuals as examples of how-to writing
  • Chart paper
  • Overhead projector and transparencies