Interactive Whiteboard Activities

Show, Don't Tell: A Whiteboard Writing Lesson

Explore with students how to use active verbs to show what's happening rather than simply reporting the facts in this interactive writing mini-lesson. From Writing Lessons for the Interactive Whiteboard (Grades 2–4), by Lola M. Schaefer

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

In this mini-lesson, whiteboard-ready writing samples help students spot the difference between telling or reporting information that holds the reader back and writing that involves the audience by showing what’s happening in stories.
Exploring the question, "Does my writing show what's happening?," students view short paragraphs on the interactive whiteboard and pick out examples of where an author uses sounds, thoughts, and feelings, as well as examples of where the writing is straight reporting.


Download These Files

Show, Don’t Tell #1
Show, Don’t Tell #2


Display "Show, Don’t Tell" sample #1 on the interactive whiteboard.

Show, Don't Tell Sample #1
Image of Sample #1

Read it aloud with expression, then ask:

  • Do you understand what the author has written? Does it make sense? Celebrate the fact that your students do understand the writing: The writer successfully carried meaning to his audience. Continue with these questions:
  • Do you feel as if you’re right there at the ball field, seeing and hearing what’s happening?
  • Which groups of words showed you w hat the narrator did?
  • Can you pick one group of words and show me what this baseball player did? Did the author tell you about the narrator’s feelings or did she show you?
  • Can you give me an example?

Repeat this process, displaying sample #2 on the interactive whiteboard.

Show, Don't Tell Sample #2
Image of Sample #2

Then, ask the class which of the two pieces has more “show.” At this time, you might ask children to come to the whiteboard and underline the words or groups of words that show in sample #1. Repeat the process for sample #2. After examining both of these pieces, it should be evident to all children that sample #1 has more “show.”


Discussion Points


If children cannot tell you why they think sample #1 is the stronger piece, display that sample again and ask:

  • Did the writer give us the exact words spoken or thought?
  • Did the author tell us how the narrator’s body reacted to different feelings?
  • Did the author use active verb s and pint pictures of what the narrator does?
  • Did the author use any specific words for sounds?


Show, Don’t Tell: An Overview of the Craft Element


1. Use active verbs to show what’s happening. (called, stepped, hung, though, swung, raised, pulled, watched, dropped, ran)

2. Use the exact words a character spoke (“Strike two!” the umpire called.)

3. Show the feelings of a character by what he does. (hung his head, heartbeat throbbing in my ears)

4. Paint pictures with specific words or groups of words. (I raised the bat over my shoulder and waiting, I dropped the bat and ran and ran and ran, first base.)


About the Book


Writing Lessons for the Interactive Whiteboard (Grades 2–4), by Lola M. Schaefer

These easy, step-by-step lessons use the tools of the whiteboard to help students identify the elements of excellent writing and then apply them in their own work. Writing skills covered include all the essentials for grades 2–4 — developing an idea, organizing, using details, writing convincing leads, and more! Includes tips for both Promethean and SMART Board users, plus a CD with 20 writing models to print or display on screen.

More Activities From Writing Lessons for the Interactive Whiteboard
Vocabulary: Do My Words Paint Pictures?

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  • Subjects:
    Parts of Speech, Narrative Writing, Writing Process, Teaching with Technology
  • Skills:
    Reading Comprehension, Descriptive Writing, Narrative Writing