A Personal Declaration Essay, Day One

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Students will be able to write a claim, evidence, and details on a topic of personal importance by completing an essay outline.

Big Idea

What's your stand? Personal persuasion.

Do Now: Present Participle Practice

5 minutes

Practice makes perfect, so we're writing sentences with present participles to add complexity to our sentence structures again today. This isn't our first practice, so I don't give students quite as long to work. After attendance, I ask for examples.

As usual, students' topics are each other:

Snoring and rolling, T slept through class.

Giggling and smiling, H flirted with B.

A few students continue to use the -ing verb as a noun (a gerund); I make corrections verbally, complementing them first on their use of a gerund but guiding to the answer I would actually like.

Running was her favorite thing.

Not quite. Try, Running swiftly, she smiled ear to ear.

After five examples, we move into our main lesson for the day.

A Personal Declaration

40 minutes

We've written and revised three persuasive essays, a good number for practice. It's time to move into serious business--our first summative essay.

I introduce the Personal Declaration Essay, reading through the assignment and its required standards.

As I explain to my students, I want them to write about something that matters to them; their writing will be more passionate, stronger, more engaging if they do so.

To get them started, I suggest a brainstorm session on the board. I ask them to think of an issue that impacts their lives, and then I pass out markers. Each students must record an issue on the board, and we'll keep going until the board is full (no large letters!).

Before long, the board is full: immigration, government shutdown, dress code, lunch regulations, gay marriage, pay to play sports, class requirements, financial stress, and more.

From prior experience, I know students will struggle to put the phrases on the board into a claim. I suggest that they add an action--what would they like to see happen with the issue? For example, they might add the action "the national government should pass laws to protect" to "gay marriage" or add the action "the school should relax" to "dress code." Heads nod; this makes sense.

From here, we are ready to work. I pass out our outline template and give deadlines (students will have two class periods to create their outlines since they will likely need to do research for their details), and then I mill as they work.

There are few questions--once the claims are established, most students know how to proceed. I get the pleasure of watching students fire up about issues which matter to them. Still, a few struggle finding a topic: