Lesson: WS 1.2 - Writing Strong Topic Sentences

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Lesson Objective

SWBAT write at least two topic sentences that have a subject and argument for an unfamiliar paragraph by the end of the week.

Lesson Plan

WS 1.2 – Writing Strong Topic Sentences
Standard : Science 6.g and 6.h
1.2 Create multiple-paragraph compositions: a. Provide an introductory paragraph. b. Establish and support a central idea with a topic sentence at or near the beginning of the first paragraph.
I. Desired Outcome
SWBAT write at least two topic sentences that have a subject and argument for an unfamiliar paragraph by the end of the week. 
II. Evidence of Learning*
-Ss responses during lesson
-Ss completion of worksheet
III. Opening the Lesson
A. Activity to open the lesson ideally:
 1. Motivates and engages students,
 2. Either assesses prior knowledge or explicitly builds on prior knowledge/life experiences/interests – for example, “Do Nowsâ€
 3. States the objective of the lesson.
B. How long will the opening take?
C. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
Tell Ss what a good job they did yesterday on finding main ideas and supporting details details. Tell Ss that now that we are familiar with our nonfiction paragraphs from yesterday, we are going to practice writing topic sentences that introduce these paragraphs.   
Write the word topic sentence on the board. Tell Ss that a topic sentence tells the main idea of what the paragraph will be about, and that it usually comes first in the sentence. 
Great writers use topic sentences to organize their writing, and great readers look for them to learn the main idea of a paragraph.  A topic sentence is like a movie preview – it gives the main idea of what you are about to see without telling every single part. It also wants to make you interested in the movie – you don’t want your reader to read your topic sentence and then not read the rest of your paragraph!
(You may want to have this next part premade as a poster)
 Topic sentences have two parts, the subject and the argument or action. Tell Ss that the subject is topic, the main thing the paragraph is about. The argument is the thing that is important about the subject, the thing the reader needs to know. 
                                                         (3-4 Minutes)
IV. Instruction and Modeling* – What is the teacher doing?
A.What are you going to teach and how? (Will you provide relevant information, model thought processes, establish guides or graphic organizers, etcetera?)
B.How will you differentiate instruction? (small groups, guided math, guided reading, guided writing, literature circles, etc)
C..How long will each activity take?
D. Consider Blooms Taxonomy/Ask good questions (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation)
E. Consider Newmann’s Rigor
Project a copy of your birthday party paragraph from yesterday. Show students the blank lines at the beginning of the paragraph and tell them you are going to write a topic sentence using both an occasion and a position.    
On the overhead, write Although I have had many parties, my birthday party last Saturday was my best ever. 
Highlight the first part of the sentence and label it subject. Explain to Ss how this part is telling readers that they are about to read about parties, while the second part of the sentence is going to argue that your birthday was the best ever, or that it was really, ridiculously fun.  
Tell Ss that there are certain beginning words that help us write strong topic sentences. 
Ask Ss: Why is this a good topic sentence? How does it interest your reader   
Take two student responses, find a consensus, tell students that most good topic sentences begin with these starter words. 
(more to be added to later)
Topic Sentence Starter Words
Even though…
Even if…
Using another starter word from your list, model a second sentence. Example:
Even if you were to go to a thousand birthday parties, my birthday would stick in your mind like Scotch tape on Super Glue.  
Again, discuss what makes this topic sentence effective. Again, illustrate (with color coded highlighting If desired) how the first part tells the subject, the second makes an argument or explanation.   
 (5 minutes)
V.Guided Practice – What are the students doing?
A.What will students do to interact and practice the subject matter? 
B. How will you differentiate instruction? 
C.What sorts of groupings will you use?
D.How long will each activity take?
Using one of the starter words, ask students to see if they can think of a different topic sentence for our birthday party paragraph. 
Take a student response and discuss what makes it work, or praise the first student and ask if a fellow writer can help improve their topic sentence to hook the reader. 
Make sure students are using the new vocabulary words subject and action or argument  to discuss the sentences. 
(10 minutes)
VI. Independent Practice –
Ss record your two best sentences that you came up with as a class, then write two more topic sentences for the birthday party paragraph. When finished, they can try to write topic sentences for the paragraph on the back (Extra Practice).   
 (10 minutes)
VIII. Closing the Lesson
Tell Ss what a fabulous job you saw them all doing today in writing their topic sentences. Ask a student to raise a quiet hand and tell the class the two parts of a topic sentence. Validate student and tell Ss we will keep practicing tomorrow. 
(5-8  Minutes)
1. What went well?
2. What would you change?
3. What needs explanation?
What went well? 2. What would you change? 3. What needs explanation?  Ss loved the imaginitive use of "argument" in these lessons.  Students were able to draw on their work using figurative language in 4th grade and having students make their arguments using similes was a big motivator.           
 I would preread some of these paragraphs with lower readers so the content of the paragraph isn't an additional challenge.  I would also reduce the number of paragraps expected from certain students as long as you keep the quality high. 
Some students had trouble differentiating between "action" and "argument" and when it is needed...it's a subtle difference based on the tone of the paragraph, whether it's focused on content or trying to persuade a reader. 

Lesson Resources

WS 1 2 Topic sentence v ii   Classwork
Topic Sentence Practice Extra Practice   Classwork
Topic Sentence Practice   Other


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