I like to start this lesson by asking the students to help me create another visual image that links a microtheme to a standard five paragraph essay. I do this to continue reinforcing the format of both, but also to continue reinforcing the connection between both formats. I put the Non-Highlighted Example of a microtheme up on the Smart Board and have a student read it aloud for the class. Then, we go sentence-by-sentence to determine and highlight each sentence as we discuss its role in the microtheme, where we end up with the Highlighted Example.
Once we have completed and discussed the day's warm-up/anticipatory set activity, I have the students work in pairs to complete an activity that works in reverse. I provide a 5 Paragraph Essay Example for them and ask that they turn it into a microtheme. The process is pretty structured, and goes as follows:
Step 1- Read through the essay silently and independently
Step 2- Discuss the thesis and the different pieces of evidence
Step 3- Color code the essay to label the pieces of a microtheme (blue/teal for thesis and restated thesis, green for topic sentences with transitions, yellow for the STRONGEST piece of evidence in each of the body paragraphs, and pink/magenta for explanation/justification of the evidence and how it supports the thesis)
Step 4- Number the sentences that are to be included in the microtheme. As a reminder, the microtheme should have 11-12 sentences total.
Once the students have had time to complete this activity, we return to a whole group instructional pattern and go through the microtheme. I write the Microtheme Example Highlighted on the Smart Board for the students as we talk briefly through each component of the microtheme. Typically, there is very little deviation from one pair to another, so we don't have to spend much time discussing questions like "Why this sentence instead of that one?" with exception being the value students may place on different pieces of evidence.
I then assign the homework for the day and give the students another example of a standard essay to read and label, The Three Africas Essay. They have worked on this same type of task in pairs, with appropriate support from me in the whole group environment. This now requires them to complete the activity as independent learners. I feel it is really important to allow students multiple opportunities to practice with this process as they are building capacity to understand the relationship between the components of both styles of writing.