We open class today with a welcome to "European Languages Day," and as such I have moved the Friday Favorite poll to a "Thursday 'Thravorite.'" I poll students on which languages they have studied: French, German, Spanish, or any others.
Then, I ask, "If any language could be added to our program of study, what would it be?" in order to provide an opportunity for students to share their thoughts and practice classroom communication, propelling the conversation by posing and responding to broader themes or larger ideas and clarifying, verifying, or challenging ideas and conclusions offered by their peers (SL.9-10.1c).
As always, the Daily Holiday and Friday Favorite contribute to building a sense of collaboration and community in my classroom.
The majority of students turned their argumentative research paper planing sheet/prewrite in to the sub last week (see lesson: "A Wise Man Also Said: Wrapping Up Aphorisms and Persuasive Pre-Writing"). This provided me an opportunity to give students feedback, and narrow the focus of their topics. After I return the planning sheets, I provided a brief explanation of the comments: "OK" = this topic has been accepted, "Refocus" = narrow down or resubmit topic; either it did not meet the assigned parameters of the paper, or it would be too broad to research. I also explain some reasons for not approving topics, mostly because the decisions are made at the state level (curfew, drivers licensing, teacher tenure) or students chose I topic I explicitly asked them not to (later start of the school day).
While I return the papers and allow students a few minutes to review my comments, I check with students who did not turn a planning sheet in (for whatever reason), and ask that they spend this time proposing a topic.
The structure of paper is outlined on the board for the students. We go through the suggested format. This is a five-paragraph essay, but with specific requirements for each step:
1. Students will introduce their argument (make a claim) in the introduction paragraph. The overall topic is to argue for change to a local (to the school or town) issue.
2. Body paragraph #1 will be written to appeal either to emotion or logic.
3. Body paragraph #2 will be written as a counterclaim to acknowledge the other side has a valid argument as well, to concede a point.
4. Body paragraph #3 will be written to create a rebuttal to the concession in BP #2.
5. The closing paragraph with sum up the paper and challenge the reader to take action.
This outline follows the structure of a MEL-Con five-paragraph essay, providing a clear format for the students' writing (MEL-Con "Paragraph Planning Sheet" courtesy Wheeling High School, Wheeling IL). Students will be composing a five paragraph essay, as it is a format they are familiar with: this paper focuses on and builds research skills and crafting an argument (see unit: "Persuasive Writing: Research and Rhetorical Skills").
Ultimately, students will be using valid reasoning and evidence to write their argument and support their claim, but at this point, the focus falls on introducing a precise (W.9-10.1a) by planning and adjusting their approached based on feedback (W.9-10.5). They will receive detailed directions in an upcoming class, but after providing specific feedback into individual topic selections, the purpose of this mini-lecture was to show why some topic were approved and some were not.
To transition from the look at their paper topics to a recap of Benjamin Franklin's aphorisms, I project a selected list of Franklin's aphorisms onto the whiteboard, such as:
Fish and visitors smell in three days.
Two may keep a secret if three of them are dead.
The cat in glove catches no mice.
Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
A stitch in time saves nine.
As a class we discus and react to each example, and I call on students to infer the "meaning" of the aphorisms (RI.9-10.1), how the words chosen demonstrates both the implied meaning and humorous tone (RI.9-10.4), and what their own reactions are to the statement. We hold this class discussion on both the meanings and reactions as I put their thoughts on the board in order to provide a point of reference for note taking (the aphorisms I choose will show up on the unit and final exams). Our conversation provides students an opportunity to respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding, making new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented by their peers (SL.9-10.1d).
To close class today, I remind students that we will be returning to addressing Thomas Jefferson tomorrow, and they should review the "Understanding Argument" assignment they worked on while reading the The Declaration of Independence individually.