Today's Do Now is another essay related topic, now review given our earlier lesson creating visual metaphors for essays. I ask students to define claim because without a claim, there is really no persuasive essay.
After attendance, I call on several students to share their definitions, building a complete definition. I also ask, "What is NOT a good claim?" This allows me to check for full understanding of the finer details, such as claims are not "wishy-washy" or slanted.
Students respond well:
"It gives your point of view."
"It shouldn't be both sides."
"It shouldn't have 'I' in it."
We're on the right track.
Before I can fully dive into teaching the persuasive essay, I need to see what my students remember from previous classes--this allows me to focus only on their needs and create differentiated activities in advance. Today's lesson may be a bit dull, but it is necessary for future work.
I remind students that they will need to write a timed persuasive essay when they take the ACT in March (required for all juniors in the State of Michigan) and explain that I also would like to see what they can do so I can better plan for their needs. Then, I instruct them to prepare. While we have the iPads and many students prefer to type using them, I ask students to hand write today, mirroring the conditions of the actual ACT. They need the practice for their speed and comfort.
When everyone is ready, I direct them to the prompt and begin time. As they begin, I circulate to see what approach they take: do they plan first? Do they dive right in? Do they sit stumped? These observations give me valuable information about what types of writing process work students will most need to practice.
Most students dive right in, though not many students use their full time to write. We'll have to work on writing stamina and fully developing ideas as we study essay structure this year.
After essays are submitted, I ask students to share their reflections: what was easy? What wasn't? Hearing others' approaches can help students when we next write, and what didn't seem easy to them is further food for future lessons.
Most students feel the topic was easy (which is good since the ACT is usually school-related, too) but that the counter-claim was a challenge. I know they just started studying counter-claims sophomore year, so I'm not surprised to hear this. It's just one area of many we will focus on this year.