I begin class by making rounds through the room to stamp the student's homework from the previous class (the position statement on whether Jose Canseco is a baseball legend or a cheater).
While I am doing so, I have the students share their writing with a shoulder partner at their table. It would be ideal if the students had differing perspective, but is by no means necessary. Sharing the writing orally is the key item here. I discuss this further in my reflection.
Once we have completed partner share-outs and stamping, I lead the class in a short discussion about key details. I do this in order to support critical analysis of evidence and details with immediate feedback, prior to the writing task. This process begins with each table group talking together about some of the most important details from their writing. They then determine which details were common and/or most important among them. I then list one or two from each table on the board, placing tally marks as they are repeated. This gives me a good opportunity to provide feedback as well as to correct any details that are not effective or appropriately "key."
We then move on to a brief discussion about blogs. I ask the students to share any information they have regarding what a blog is. I ask them to be as specific as they can, using information from any blogs they have read in the past or follow regularly. We talk about the nature, style, and approach of blogs. We talk about how some blogs are silly and humorous, while others are informational and serious. The items that students find to be consistently common are that blogs are typically written in a narrative style and often using more casual language than essays and reports that may cover the same topic. I make it a point, as well, to share information about a couple blogs that I follow regularly - one about the NFL and EduBlogs.org. I mention that some blogs remain entirely informal, using less factual evidence and more emotional appeal, while other blogs exist at the other end of the spectrum entirely. I believe most blogs rest somewhere in between the two extremes, finding a balance between the formal and informal.
The task for the day is to research more information about individuals and their experience with steroids. I tell the students that they are to focus either on "teen steroid use" or on "the use of steroids among professional athletes" specifically. I ask that students find 2-3 quality resources to support the position they have taken on steroid use. I clearly establish for them that they will be using all texts to complete a writing assignment the following day.
This portion of the lesson, for me, takes place in the computer lab, but could also be done using laptops or tablets in the classroom if you are fortunate enough to have that capability. Each student is working mostly independently, but I believe in collaboration. When a student finds a good resource, I ask that they share that information with one another as well. We have a large white board in the computer lab I use at school, so, as the students share a new source, I write down notes and website urls for all to see.
Students use the Source Info Graphic Organizer to take notes on each of the sources they find which they are expected to use when writing their own blogs about steroid use among teens or athletes. I find it to be rather important that the students find their own sources for this task because it is an important skill to have as they move forward in college and career. Finding and utilizing quality information is something that will have a tremendously positive impact them as life-long learners.