Today begins with the continuation of what was started in the previous lesson, where my students bubble-mapped the events, characters, etc. from Esperanza's world (The House On Mango Street) that most shape her dreams and aspirations.
I instruct my students to take out their bubble maps for Esperanza and turn them over. On the back, I tell them to draw another circle in the center, this time labeling it as their world, the same as they did for Esperanza. I have created a model on the whiteboard (Teacher Bubble Map) and reference it as I am getting my students started.
I then tell them to perform the same task as they did for Esperanza, only this time, indicating at least three events, people, etc. from their own worlds that have been key to shaping their dreams and aspirations. I walk them through my own map, briefly explaining what I have selected and why. By having my students perform this task first with the character of Esperanza, then by sharing my own map, my goal is for them to cast a wide net, wider than perhaps they first did with their diagnostic writing sample, for the elements in their worlds that have shaped their dreams and aspirations (Student World 1, Student World 2).
I then instruct my students to take out a sheet of lined paper and I begin the powerpoint, where I have incorporated both notes for organizing their essays, as well as sample paragraphs to read and analyze, based on my own bubble mapping of the prompt.
The powerpoint begins with the prompt and I have every student write it down at the top of their paper. I remind them how critical it is to always remember what they have been asked to address in an essay, and to continually "check back in with the prompt" as they develop their essays.
I likewise remind them that this is a prompt they have already addressed, during the first week of school, but that this is an opportunity to rewrite it, post-The House On Mango Street, where they have witnessed fresh and memorable writing on virtually every page. Their goal for this time around is to give their writing a new level of attention throughout, stretching for new and memorable ways to express themselves. If they desire, they may consult their original pieces, but I find that most students approach this assignment as a clean slate.
I instruct students to copy down only the red-bulleted portions of the powerpoint, explaining that the paragraphs are samples of what they might do. I show them two possible introductory paragraphs for my essay, one that focuses primarily on using figurative language, and another that opens with a brief anecdote. Both figurative language and anecdote have been features of this unit, so I want to encourage them to use either or both. I also call their attention to the places where I have used the semi-colon, as this, too, was a concept we covered in this unit.
At this point, I pause and challenge my students to write a possible introductory paragraph, giving them 7-10 minutes to do so. I ask for volunteers to read their Student Introduction, and allow students to comment as a whole class on the work of their peers.
We then move on in the powerpoint to the tips for writing body paragraphs, where I explain to my students that this is where their bubble maps will come in handy. I instruct them to select the three things from their bubble maps that will be focus of each of their three body paragraphs. I show them my partially-created first body paragraph, explaining that it would go with the first sample introductory paragraph that I showed them. I allow my students to analyze and detect the ways I am continually trying to make my language fresh and memorable in my body paragraph, reminding them that they must stay vigilant throughout their essays in terms of keeping their audience engaged. I use the comparison to meeting someone cute at a party: You really hit it off at first (introductory paragraph), but if when you ask that person to dance you are tripping all over yourself (body paragraphs), you are going to lose his/her interest. This is usually a very fun scenario to introduce to students, as it provides for plenty of goofy teacher elaborations and demonstrations . . .
Before allowing my students to begin drafting their body paragraphs, I move to the conclusion and outline pages of the powerpoint, in order to be sure that the whole presentation is given in one sitting. In the past, I have found that if I spread it over two class periods, my students lose the sense of cohesion that I am trying to make as clear as possible to them.
I return to my scenario of the imagined party for the conclusion: You met, sparks flew, you danced the night away, and now it's time to say goodbye . . . so you flash him/her your best smile . . . and you've got a piece of lettuce stuck in your font teeth. Ugh. You blew it at the conclusion. I explain to my students that they have an obligation to keep their audience engaged and/or satisfied throughout their entire essay, right on though to their conclusions. I show them my partially created conclusion, and encourage them to aim for at least three sentences in their own conclusions.
The outline provided at at the end is to demonstrate an easy visual for seeing the essay structure. I will focus on customizing the outline in the next lesson.
Whatever time is left in class after the interactive notes is devoted to body paragraph drafting.