Wrapping up the Explanatory Essay: Writing the conclusion and reviewing each other's essays

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SWBAT organize and draft the conclusion of the explanatory essay by using a suggested outline. SWBAT revise their essays by engaging in a peer review process.

Big Idea

Students put a bow on their essays, wrapping it up with a solid conclusion.

Building Knowledge: How to conclude your essay

15 minutes

This is an opportunity to write a conclusion that supports the information presented in their explanatory body paragraphs CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2f .

Instead of modeling this section of the essay, I have students use the Write Source books published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in December 2010 (any level will do) to read a couple of conclusions from student essays.  I use these samples because they are not perfect, but they do approximate what a 9th grade student would be writing. My students will be able to note areas that are well-done as well as those that are lacking. I'll also ask them to read the section in Write Source on "Concluding the Essay." I am choosing to do it this way because I want them to write their own ideas this time rather than swiping mine (which I may have allowed in the introduction).

For those cherubs that will say, "I don't know what to write," I've got it covered.

For the conclusion, they should consider including the following:

1) restate the thesis

2) summarize the main points

3) end with a final thought

As a class we take a few minutes to discuss the effectiveness of the conclusions in the Write Source texts. In other words, why do these conclusions work? 

After this brief discussion and a pep talk about how I can't wait to read these fantastic conclusions and how their conclusions are going to SMASH the ones in the textbook, it's time to write.

Application: Writing the conclusion

25 minutes

It's practice time! Students get 20-25 minutes to draft their conclusion. Here are two examples of what students produced during this time today: student work conclusion and draft conclusions2

As usual, the teacher bird (me) is hovering to see who needs more support and to give encouragement where needed.



Application: Peer Review

20 minutes

After 15 minutes have passed, we take off our writing hats and put on our evaluation hats again. This time we are reviewing the whole package.

 I tell students to write the following information on clean sheet of paper:

  • Writer
  • Responder:
  • What I like about the writing:
  • What improvements are needed:

This will serve as the peer response sheet.  I know... I'm asking for trouble with these open ended questions...but I have a plan! Both responses to the writing have to be based on the 6 traits of writing. (Ideas, Organization, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Voice.) In other words, in the "What I like about the writing" section, they could say, "I like the writer's word choice in paragraph 3 when he/she describes the author's tone. I'll tell them that the writer really needs this information in order to make improvements to the writing, so if you just say, "I like the word choice"--it's useless. Here are two of my students modeling this step in the process: Peer Response Explanatory Essay and Peer Response Explanatory Essay2

After writing their responses, they'll spend 5 minutes discussing it. Here, we are working on our writing, but addressing CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 as they collaborate in peer discussions about their writing.

I will expect my students to strengthen their writing as needed (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5) before publishing the final copy for next class.

Self-Selected Reading or Sustained Silent Writing

20 minutes

Whew! We've been doing a lot of writing, and the students are continuing to build their stamina for longer pieces. For the last 20 minutes of class, they have a choice: reading their SSR books in order to practice reading and comprehending texts in the 9th -10th grade band of complexity CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.10 or working on "tweaking" components of their essays (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5).

I am choosing to give them this time for a couple of reasons:

1) Some students have been bringing their SSR texts to class every day, and they haven't gotten a chance to do any reading. Any time students are dying to read...LET 'EM READ!

2) Some students are still struggling with portions of the essay, and this is a great time for me to check in with them and give feedback on some of their paragraphs.