I open by asking students "What is an argument?" and "When is it ok to argue?" I want them to get to the idea that we argue because two people have different opinions on an issue. If they don't get there I ask "What makes an argument good or bad?".
I then ask them to share with a peer a time they argued with another person for a good reason.
I call on a few students to share. I want to build their conceptual understanding that arguments are our way of communicating opinions that we have.
I share that college-ready thinkers compare information they have collected from researched topics to determine their opinion on issues. For this lesson we will review our notes comparing bees and ants to determine if we now think they are more alike or more different.
To do this we will organize our notes on an essay template so that we can write strong, descriptive sentences on our papers.
I project the template on the board and write in my topic as - Can we prove bees and ants are alike?
I think aloud and come up with a sample opener, "Buzz, buzz...Sniff, sniff, although bees and ants don't communicate the same way, they are not that different after all." and I add this to the Great Opener second text box.
Now I add my sentence that will introduce my topic to the third Key Information text box, "After comparing and contrasting the information in the articles, "Busy Bees" on www.pestworld.com and "The Super Ant" by Linda Isaacson, I now feel that bees and ants are very similar insects.
I want to get students involved so I ask them to write the response to this sentence starter for the next Thesis text box: In this essay I will ____________________________________. (If they struggle with what to say I ask "What am I trying to prove?" and "How am I going to prove this opinion to the readers?" I take ideas and write them on the board (I don't transfer them to the template yet because I want to add the three focus topics they will discuss in the body)
To teach essay writing skills I take a stop here and have them look back at their articles and notes to find three ways ants and bees are similar. I take ideas and we decide on three.
Our class came up with this thesis sentence "In this essay I will prove that bees and ants are similar by comparing the way they gather food, the jobs they hold in their colonies and the care they give to their queens."
Before I release them to work independently on their writing I review how their body paragraphs should be outlined.
Review is given to how write one paragraph for each topic (add the topics to the template on the board to show placement in each paragraph)
Transitional words for each section (give students copies to be kept in their writing folders)
Quoting accurately from the articles ( use quotation marks when you are copying from the text - I will model a sentence on the board)
Referencing the poster "Evidence in Writing" sentence starters (another good area to model on the board)
I then ask them to complete their own essay template for the bees and ants comparison or contrast. I tell them they have to create a new great opener but can use the rest of the facts we did together if they are comparing. If they are choosing to contrast (I didn't have any this time who chose this, but have had some in the past) they need to start all over with a new topic sentence, etc. Here's a student sharing his example
I circulate to identify struggling students and answer questions. Set the timer and off they go!
I use to have them write at this point and if you have a longer writing block of time you could give them 20-30 min. to write their expository essay.
If not, then you can do like I did and have them write the next day.
We get back together and share some strong evidence text for each of our topics of proof.
I then close by asking them, "How does adding evidence help our opinion writing?" and "When will we need to use this in life?" Referring back to the big idea helps them re relate their learning to a purpose in life and that builds their intrinsic motivation to give effort to tasks.