My first big pile of essays get delivered to my desk tomorrow. Oh joy, oh bliss! Here’s hoping that all the work we did over the last few weeks paid off and I can fly through them with ease 🙂
My students will be shifting gears from non-fiction to fiction, and I will begin with a little bit of gradual release as we study three short stories. The first one is one of my all time favourites: The Singing Silence by Eva-Lis Wuorio (I’d provide a link, if I could, but I can’t find an e-copy). The story is about a wonderful old guy named Vicente, who discovers that true contentment is not found in your pocket book, but in doing what brings you joy. It is just chock full of good messages and I use it as a jumping off point to writing about literature. First I will set a purpose for reading the story: to analyze the character of Vicente and to discover the author’s message. I will direct them to take notes with that purpose in mind and will model the process of close reading with them, using the first few pages of the text.
After they have finished a close read, I will have them turn and talk to a partner. What did they learn? How would they describe Vicente? What evidence would they use to back up their statements. We will discuss their discoveries as a class and then I will model how to write a literary paragraph. We will repeat the process with theme.
Next, I will assign the next story, Saturday Climbing, by WD Valgaardson, another text that deals with finding contentment. Students will get the same instructions: close read, paying attention to character and theme. During the following class, they will work in groups to discuss their notes and then to complete a group paragraph, based on the model we co-created the previous day. Once they are done, they will trade with another group to mark that group’s paragraph with the same rubric I will eventually use to mark the paragraphs they will write on their own. On the way out the door, they will provide me with an exit ticket that will guide my instruction for the next day–what do they still not get?
On the final day of this process, they will be assigned The Spaces Between Stars, by Geeta Kothari, and the task of discovering the theme. The end result will be a good copy paragraph that they will pass in for formative assessment.
I will also be using these stories as mentor texts for the students’ independent reading. We will look at how the characters and themes are developed in the novels they are reading. Also, because all three short stories look at finding contentment in one’s life, my students will journal about what they are learning about happiness as they read.
It’s gonna be a full week!
My process is fully laid out in more detail (but still not short story copies) in this product.
I’m almost done of my writing workshop with my grade twelve students. We have been working toward writing an amazing persuasive research essay–at least I have been. My dream is to take in thirty well-written and engaging essays that I just can’t put down. I did say dream.
Yesterday I used an activity that always seems to turn on a few light bulbs: my kinesthetic essay. I break down the steps of the essay writing process then have them demonstrate it “physically”. It helps them not only see the steps but also gets them up and moving around. Any time we can activate multiple learning styles we should!
Want further explanation? I’m offering it for free for the next 24 hours!
First of all, congratulations to Tracy, winner of the Trick o’ Teach Giveaway!
This week my students and I are doing writing workshop. When I do my first essay with my grade twelves, I take them through a slow and methodical approach to writing.
It’s no secret that many students start writing an essay the night before it is due. I want to show them that by taking their time, and going through the writing process, they will make great strides in their writing and produce an essay they can be super proud of.
We start with pre-writing with a few fun exercises designed to show them the power of spending sometime developing ideas before they actually start writing. Then I want them to write a rough draft. They are writing a persuasive research essay, but I want the first draft written with no research. This is for two reasons: first of all, I want them to choose a topic that they are passionate about and that they know enough about to write a first draft without outside info. More importantly, though, I want them to understand that research is used to support their points, not as an end in itself. By doing it this way, I tend to get fewer papers that are just a regurgitation of someone else’s ideas.
My students will be coming to me today with their rough drafts in hand and I will be doing some mini-lessons on paraphrasing and embedding quotations. Their next task is to find research to back up their ideas and then to write a second draft. Once that is done, I will do mini-lessons each day on different components of good writing: using transitions, adding variety, choosing the best word, etc. After each lesson, they will revise their essays, and get some peer feedback.
In the end, they will pass in their good copy, as well as a folder full of their drafts. The most important part of their folder will be their self-evaluation, where they reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the essay and the effectiveness of following the process.
I’m usually pretty happy with the end result. I wish I could take it this slow every time, but it’s my hope that by showing my students the power of process, that they will take a slower more thoughtful approach to their writing.
If you’d like to check out the lessons I use for this unit, you can find them here, by clicking on the images: