Scholars have 1 minute to jot down the characteristics of a strong paragraph. This is the first writing that I ask scholars to do and I want them to have an opportunity to access their prior knowledge. They discuss the characteristics of a strong paragraph with partners for 30 seconds and then I choose 3 friends randomly from my cup to share.
The idea here is not that I am explicitly teaching about strong paragraph structure, I am simply and quickly giving scholars the opportunity to remember what they already know about strong paragraphs so that they can link it to their new learning.
I explain that on all teams, each teammate has a special job, or responsibility. The quarterback is responsible for throwing the ball and calling the plays. The receiver is responsible for catching the ball. Just like individuals on a team have a specific role, we have a specific role on our team. Today, we're going to apply for jobs.
I distribute the classroom application and classroom manager description. I explain that as the year progresses, their application will be expected to become more rigorous. Each quarter we apply for jobs. Quarter 1 is the application plus one paragraph describing why i should hire you. Quarter 2's requirement is the application with a 2-paragraph essay, quarter 3 is the application with a three paragraph essay and quarter 4 is the application with a five-paragraph essay.
I read through each job description - paraphrasing when necessary. Scholars have the opportunity to ask questions. I encourage students to take notes in the margin/underline and highlight as needed.
Now, we take a brain break. Since this lesson is taught during the first week of school, scholars lack stamina. Taking a brain break allows scholars the opportunity to get up, stretch their legs and provides oxygen & blood to the brain. This enhances engagement for the remainder of the lesson.
Then, I model how to complete the application (using my ladybug visualizer). I then show them the hamburger graphic organizer for how to write a paragraph. There is a space for an introduction sentence, three supporting details and a closing sentence. The introduction sentence tells the reader what you're about to say (i.e. "I want to apply to be the paycheck manager.") The three detail sentences tell why I should hire you (i.e. I earned an "A" in math last year and am good with numbers.) The closing sentences re-states the opening sentence (i.e. Therefore, I want to be the paycheck manager). I model using the graphic organizer.
Have students work with a partner to play the game called "Scenarios." I pretend to have an English accent and read the following "Scenarios." Students have 2 minutes for each "Scenario" to write the part of the paragraph. Scholars write on dry erase boards. I give on the spot feedback and have scholars fix/improve sentences on the spot. "Scenarios" are listed below:
1. Michael wants to apply to be the Paycheck Manager. Write a strong topic sentence with your partner on the dry erase board.
2. Crystal is applying for the Line Leader. Write 2 sentences that she might use to support WHY (reasons & evidence) she would make a good line leader.
3. Alex is applying to be the Cafeteria Manager. Write a strong concluding sentence.
Scholars the use hamburger graphic organizer to independently organize their paragraph. Then, they write their paragraph and complete their application. For most of my scholars, writing a single paragraph is review.
However, there are a few scholars in both classes who struggle a bit with writing (two of whom moved to the US 4 months ago). I pull a small group of scholars who need more support to the back of the classroom. With this group, I give them sentence stems. For example, I might write on the board, I want to apply to be... Then, I interview them to find out what they want job they want. After that, we practice using the Classroom Manager Description to find the correct spelling of the job they want. For my two scholars who are new to the country, I use some Spanish to ensure that they understand the task, topic and what each job entails.
In order to close out the lesson today and help scholars solidify what they learned, scholars turn and tell their friends the components of a strong paragraph. This is a quick closure because I want to make sure that scholars maximize their time today during the guided and independent practices.