Deb Conley, 4th grade teacher at Fairview Elementary (Sherwood, OH) uses an acronym to help her students remember optional ways to begin a piece of writing. Q-DIPA acts as a reminder for five different beginning techniques writers can use to grab their readers’ attention. (Deb’s handout can act as a poster to display or copy it for students to keep in their writers’ notebooks.)

Q-DIPA Beginnings

  • Q-Question
  • D-Dialogue
  • I-Interesting Fact
  • P-Picture or Unique Image
  • A-Action

Students struggle to remember too many possibilities, so Deb devised this method of helping them remember a few. She based her idea on material she found helpful from 25 Mini-Lessons for Teaching Writing, Adele Fiderer (Scholastic, Inc.). She rearranged the letters to make up a funny imaginary word that her students can remember.

After the initial activity, Deb leads her students through mentor text examples for each type of beginning. Helping students see the technique in the context of a picture book reinforces its use. Once the students have practiced noticing it and naming it, they try their hand at writing just beginnings to practice each technique. Eventually, Deb has her students write an entire piece utilizing one of the techniques intentionally. Thanks for sharing this great idea, Deb!

Great Teacher Comments:

Dan Myers, fifth grade teacher at Zionsville Middle School (Zionsville, IN) shared a link for an article on writing strong hooks. He suggested that one or two would need to be removed for lower levels.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x