In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling I use three categories; skill, strategy, and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.
Connect: I will say, We have just finished a unit on explanatory essay in which you wrote about a topic that is important to you. Today you we are going to use the essay writing skills we have gained and apply to researching a profession you want to know more about.
Teach: I will say, “In order to build upon our essay skills, our next unit is a research based essay. I am going to practice the skill of generating ideas about jobs that are interesting to me and the strategy of creating questions about the job. The process I will use is as follows:
1) Generate a list of jobs that are interesting to me based on my interests
2) Generate questions with my partner based on the job
3) Pick the questions I am most interested in researching and write what I know so far
I want students to authentically come up with their own questions. For my modeling I will show how I think through my interests and then brainstorm a job(s) related to my interests by using a three column chart (interests/jobs/questions). I will ask them to turn and talk and come up with their own questions. I will not model a question for them.
Active Engagement: “Now you are going to jot down a 3 column chart in your notebook and jot down at least 3 ideas.” I will check for understanding by looking over the shoulder of every level of learner (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard). I will ensure that students are jotting down questions that will turn into a claim with reasons and evidence with a partner.
Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember, writers practice research essays by picking ideas that interest them. They practice the skill of generating ideas based on their interests, then compose questions, and next write what they know so far about the questions they asked.
Independent Practice: Students will be directed to write out what they know so far about one of the jobs they picked or if they do not know anything about it, they can write about how they would use their interests in the job.
I will show them how I pick a profession and write out what I know about it. For example I love food and going to restaurants, so I would write about becoming a chef. I am not sure everything it takes to be a chef, but I could write about what I know; they have to go to culinary school, they have to know a lot about food and they have to work long hours. Then I could write a hypothetical anecdote about having that job, or generate more questions as I write.Here is an example of what I would like students to write.
They should write for at least 25 minutes if not more. They can write about multiple jobs within this time if they get stuck on one.
As I write, I am also pointing out that I am thinking through my sentences as I am writing (even when generating). Writing while using a variety of sentences (simple, compound and complex) was something my students are still struggling with and I want to ensure, that every time we write, we are constantly practicing sentence structure.
I will confer with them as they write using the conferences chart.
Partner Work: Students will be directed to turn and share with their partner. I will say, “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A you will share what you have written so far. Partner B, I want you to listen in order to gain ideas from Partner A. Then give them feedback; tell them an idea of what they could add or let them know what ideas you gained from their writing. Then you will switch.”
I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an “exit ticket” in which students write down the response to a question.
Closing:“What job do you think you will pick to research tomorrow?” What questions do you have that you will use in your research?”