ZOOMing in on Patterns of Organization with "Thank You, M'am"

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Students will be able to organize ideas, concepts, and information using strategies such as comparison/contrast, cause/effect, sequence, and spatial using appropriate transitions to create cohesion and clarify relationships among ideas by writing Cornell notes, reading sample paragraphs, and writing original paragraphs.

Big Idea

Students see the different ways to organize a paragraph through manipulative, notes, and examples, and writing their original paragraphs.

ZOOMing in on Organization

13 minutes

Zooming In

Zoom is a book whose story is told through pictures. There are no words and no page numbers.  I use this activity as a hands-on manipulative to hook students into thinking about how things can be organized--compare and contrast, spatial, chronological, or cause and effect.

I bought the book Zoom a few years ago and neatly and precisely tore the book apart.  I laminated each page.  This way I can reuse the book over and over without worrying about students ripping the pages, writing on the pages, or drenching them in water. 

Zoom Apart

I told students that this book was organized in a certain way, but it was up to them, as a whole class team, to figure out how the book is organized.  I told them that every picture was connected, but I wouldn't tell them any more than that. It was up to them to figure it out. And figure it out, they did!Zooming In Further

I reminded them that they needed to work together to be successful.  It could be rather difficult because they didn't just have to work with one or two others, but the entire class. Therefore, it would be super critical to give each other homecourt advantage.  I gave them an example of what homecourt advantage wouldn't be.  I asked for volunteers for students that I could 'pick on'.  Jaimee volunteered, and I said the following as if I were Jamiee:

"Ms. DeVries! What are you doing? We need that picture down here! MS. DEVRIES! ARE YOU LISTENING? OMG."

That would not be homecourt advantage because Jamiee didn't give me homecourt advantage.  She yelled at me and made me feel like crying.  Instead, Jaimee could have said:

"Ms. DeVries?  We need you and your picture down here!  Come on over!" 

After this quick reminder of citizenship and cooperative leaning, I set them to task at figuring out the ZOOM order.Zooming in Even More

It took them about eight minutes to figure out the order, which just so happens to be spatial order. This activity is loud and chaotic which you can see in this video. Sometimes I feel like a wall of noise hits me when we do this activity.

Of course, they love to watch the book ZOOM in and out under the doc cam, so we spend a couple of minutes watching the book ZOOM in and out.  While they watch, they all have their enraptured face on.    

A Full Line of Sight

Reading about Patterns of Organization and Analyzing Paragraphs

18 minutes

After setting the stage with ZOOM, I told students that like our objective stated, we would be learning about four common patterns of organization.  The author ZOOM even used one of these patterns! Could they figure out which pattern as used from the reference sheet? That was the challenge.

I gave students a reference sheet that has the various types of organizational patterns.  It has many types, but we only focused on spatial, chronological, main idea/supporting detail, and cause and effect.  We revisit the others at another time.

The reference sheet has the types, some guiding questions and transition words, that you can see in the picture. It also includes what type of writing utilizes it and some sample thesis/topic sentences. I asked students to read through the different types, aloud, in their groups.

I also gave students some sample paragraphs that I wrote about Dragonwings, the novel seventh graders in my district read up until this year. I asked students to read the sample paragraphs, locate transition or signal words that helped them figure out the pattern of organization, and determine the pattern.

Take passage C, for example. Passage C uses spatial order (just like the ZOOM book!) to convey ideas.  Yes, there is a mention of time (used to live, when), but the majority of the paragraph is dedicated to explaining where in space things are located.  Hence spatial order.The signal words/transition words are south, west, central, east, and west.

Passage A is cause and effect order. The topic sentence introduces the idea that Moon Shadow's mother is afraid to let her son go to America.  The rest of the paragraph explains her reasons, the causes, for her fear. The transitional phrase 'as a result' is what helps the reader see that this paragraph is a cause and effect paragraph.

In addition to spatial and cause and effect, students read passages for chronological, main idea/supporting details, and compare and contrast.

Writing Original Paragraphs Using the Patterns of Organization

8 minutes

This part was actually done as homework.  The assignment was to take what they learned about the four types of paragraphs and apply it to their own writing.  They were to write one spatial paragraph, one compare and contrast paragraph, one cause and effect paragraph, and one sequential/chronological paragraph about "Thank You, M'am."

At this point, they groaned because they were thinking that they needed to write four paragraphs that were six to eight sentences long.  However, when we looked at the examples, we noted that these paragraphs only had concrete evidence.  There was no commentary.  There were plenty of places to include commentary, but there wasn't any.  So, for the purposes of this assignment, students could get away with writing a paragraph without commentary, just concrete evidence.  At this point, they put their relieved faces on.

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