I announce that today we will be editing the written paragraph from the day before. I tell them that I did read their work and share three significant observations: that they are good thinkers and their writing has very god ideas, that they need to make the good thinking shine by clarifying their topic sentence, and that their writing has too much summary. I make sure to give them a combination of praise and criticism.
To help them edit, I ask for a brave volunteer to allow us to project their written paragraphs on the board. At least one student will volunteer. I make sure to tell this student that when I am submitting grades, I always remember those times when specific students volunteered when no one else wanted to. This is a copy of the paragraph volunteered to color code. I project this paper on the board and tell the class that they will be color coding their paper and evaluating the quality of it in the way I am about to show them. I point to the chart with all the elements of an essay and explain that the colors I used to box each element is the color we will use to color code their paper. This is an image of that chart with elements of an essay. Students need to have access to a set of orange, green and blue colored pencils. I read aloud the student's first paragraph and ask the class to help me label each sentence by color coding. They help me identify the first sentence as a topic sentence and I underline it orange. I also want them to evaluate the quality of this topic sentence on a scale of 1-5 and give them the following rough guideline:
5=excellent, does not need any editing.
4= very good, but can be better
2= needs a lot of work
1= completely off, definitely needs to be rewritten.
The same scale will be used for the evidence and analytical sentences and I explain that the number we assign to each depends on the purpose of the sentence. Specifically, a level 5 topic sentence responds to their question and makes a strong statement, level 5 evidence strongly supports the idea stated in the topic sentence, and level 5 analysis clearly explains how the evidence supports their topic sentence. I give the student who offered this paper the job of self-evaluating her topic sentence. She gives it a 4. I ask the class if they agree and they say they do. I agree as well and do tell the entire class that this sentence has potential, but can definitely be written better. We move on to do the same thing to the next sentences. I remind students that evidence is level 1 and analysis is level 2. We discussed this in the previous lesson. This helps them identify the second sentence as evidence and the third as analysis. The student who wrote this gave her evidence a 4 in terms of quality and a 1 to her analysis. We all agreed. The detail she selected as evidence is a significant detail in the text. Her analysis is very limited and does not elaborate on the central idea stated in her topic sentence. By this point, this student has realized that this piece of her writing needs work, something she was not aware of before today. In this video, I briefly explain this process
I thank the student for allowing us to use her paper as a model. I tell the rest of the class that they will be doing the same thing to their paper, but to focus on one of the two paragraphs they have written. They can choose whichever one they want to edit. I tell the student who volunteered her paper to take this time and do the same, color code and evaluate, to her other paragraph and then decide which one she wants to rewrite. I give students about 8 minutes to work on this.
Once students are finished color coding and evaluating one of their two paragraphs, I ask them to rewrite it to make it better. I tell them they need to be guided by the criteria we set as we color coded and evaluated in collaboration, meaning that a level 5 topic sentence responds to their question and makes a strong statement, level 5 evidence strongly supports the idea stated in the topic sentence, and level 5 analysis clearly explains how the evidence supports their topic sentence.
I give students the rest of the period to rewrite the paragraph they selected, to make it stronger, and to turn it in by the end of the period.