Between the lesson the day before and homework the night before, students should have a much stronger thesis to guide their draft. Their outline should also be far along enough to give their essay a clear direction. We begin with an important part of the introductory paragraph, an attention grabber.
My students have been told countless times that an effective way of starting an essay is with a question. However, they have not been told that a question is not the only effective way of starting so I tend to find questions at the beginning of about 80% of my students' essay. The most concerning aspect of this is that the questions are rarely provocative ones. Because of this, I open this lesson by sharing this fact. I tell students that it is ok to open with a question as long as it is a good one, one that is thought provoking and engages the reader. I do tell them that nobody likes to read "lame question," and this makes them giggle. It also prompts them to ask me for an example of such question. I suggest something like, "Have you ever thought about Identity?" and tell them that I have read too many opening questions that have asked me if I have ever thought about a given topic. I explain that these questions never make me engage with the topic and they never feel like authentic questions the reader is interested in posing. I move on to show students that there are many different ways of sparking the reader's interest and I project the "Essay Hooks." We look over each example. I point out the rhetorical question first because we just talked about it and just read the examples. The quotation is pretty self explanatory and I remind them that this is a good place to use the TED talk we watched given that it is a bit difficult for them to use it as the text they discuss in details and that the most useful parts of their notes on the talk are powerful one-liners. Anecdotes make a lot of sense to them but my students are generally ignorant to the fact that these snippets of a story have a name. I make sure to let them know the word "anecdote" is actually quite common and that they need to make an effort to become familiar with it. The samples for interesting facts are truly interesting and make my students openly express shock, which gets the point across. Finally, similes and metaphors are elements they are familiar with although they shy away from creating these in their writing.
I like using this particular chart because it includes examples that are engaging and students show appreciation for them. The interesting facts, the anecdotes, the thoughtful questions all do a good job of illustrating attention grabbers because they do grab my students' attention. If the examples were boring, students would find this 15-minute lesson excruciatingly boring. Instead, they are able to admit that they do tend to open essays with "lame questions" and ask if they are getting a copy of this chart. At the end of this short discussion, students are very clear about how to begin their essay. I keep a copy of this chart on the wall for students to walk up to and examine as needed.
Once students start drafting in class, I ask the entire class to work in silence. Students will want to ask each other for help and feedback. I allow them to do this as long as they can speak in a whisper and get back to working in silence as soon as possible. During this time, I also walk around and hold short one-on-one discussions with students. This time is helpful in giving me a sense of what they are already doing well and what they still need support with.
I tell students to continue working at home.