For homework, you should have color coded your essay to make sure that your body paragraphs are truly supporting your thesis statement. Which details don't actually support your thesis statement? Which details best support your thesis statement? What changes have you already made to your essay? What additional changes do you still need to make?
Back to the road map! The body paragraphs are all destinations on your road trip. The thesis statement says where you're going, the body paragraphs actually take you there. Maybe your first body paragraph takes you down the road to the Grand Canyon. The second body paragraph takes you down the hill to Phoenix. The third body paragraph takes you to Gallup. You have to make sure, though, that teach body paragraph is about one destination. Not two, not three, one destination. That's what we're focusing on today.
Students are making sure that their body paragraphs are aligned to their thesis statements. They color coded their details for homework, and now they're going to revise.
They'll take their best concrete evidence from their rough drafts and rewrite it and reword it. They'll explain it or interpret it with commentary. They'll write a topic sentence that introduces the paragraph and write a concluding sentence that sums it all up while also transitioning to the next body paragraph.
I modeled the process using the first idea in my thesis statement--the Little Rock Nine endured discrimination from the governor.
My first body paragraph needs to be about that topic. I need one sentence to introduce the topic of the paragraph--that the governor denied the black students their education, even though they had the legal right to the same education as white students.
Therefore, my topic sentence should be
Great. I've got my topic sentence. Now I need to explain that in my concrete evidence and commentary. The first thought in my topic sentence is that the governor was supposed to protect the Little Rock Nine. That's my first concrete evidence.
My commentary needs to explain that detail further or give an interpretation.
I also need to remember that I need to cite, because I didn't come up with this on my own. I reminded students that anything that they'd highlighted in yellow last Monday would need to be cited. I can cite by writing
Some students didn't have the author's last name. It's on their research template that's saved on the computer, so I told students to literally write Author's Last Name as a reminder to find that information and include it on their final drafts.
The second thought in my topic sentence is that the governor chose not to follow that law. That's my second concrete evidence. Remember to cite!
My commentary explains that further.
My concluding sentence not only summarizes the main points of this paragraph, but also previews what is to come in the next body paragraph. My second body paragraph will be about how the white citizens discriminated against the Little Rock Nine, so I include that in my concluding sentence.
There's my first body paragraph. Click here to see the paragraph written as an actual paragraph.
Follow the same process to get your other body paragraphs.
After I went through the modeling process, I gave students time to work on their essays, specifically, the body paragraphs.
Rules of the Writing Workshop
I asked students if they had anything else they felt would help them and others successfully revise their essays. With those rules in place, the writing workshop commenced. My student teacher and I were able to help students who needed help and they were able to receive help from their peers.
When I sat down with an individual student, this is usually how the conversation went:
What is this paragraph about?
What are your two best facts about this topic?
That's your concrete evidence. Write it down. Slam hand on desk.
Okay, first concrete evidence. Read it to me.
So what? Tell me more.
Write it down! Slam hand on desk.
Okay, second concrete evidence. Read it to me.
Tell me more. So what?
Write it down! Slam hand on desk.
Points to both sets of concrete evidence and commentary. What's this paragraph about. Put it in a sentence. Write it down. Slam hand on desk.
What's the big idea of this paragraph. Why does it MATTER?
That's your concluding sentence. Write it down. Do you have any idea why my hand hurts? No? Who else needs help?
I let students know that we would be working on writing conclusions the next day. With that said, I asked students to write down three things that they still needed help with on their essays. I collected those to help guide my instruction for the next two days.
Today's background image comes from Google maps. Thanks again, Google!