Starting a First Draft By Setting Goals and Reviewing Organization

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SWBAT Introduce a claim, and organize the reasons and evidence logically by completing a first draft of their research essay.

Big Idea

Set a targeted goal for your first draft.

Lesson Opener

10 minutes

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, “Yesterday we planned out one idea for a research essay based on a job we are thinking about for our futures. Today, we will put all our components together into a first draft. This is the first of three drafts. We will be researching two other topics and drafting two more research essays in order to pick our best writing for our final draft.

Teach: I will say, “In order to plan out my essay, I am going to practice the skill of completing a first draft and the strategy of taking everything we have learned and making a draft. The process I will use is as follows:

1) Read over my last essay (from the explanatory essay unit) to review how to put all the essay components together and to review my goal

2) Read over an example research essay.

3) Review my planning organizer (boxes, bullets and brackets)

4) Place the parts in a logical sequence in my draft using the reminders on the side."

I will give students back their last essays graded. I will then show the students how I read a graded essay (I usually copy an essay and rubric without a name on it) and set a goal for myself. I use the goal portion of the Rough draft handout and the standards portfolio that students created during the last unit. I then start my draft based on the goal I set for myself. One of my awesome students Cyruss explains the importance of goals. We will then read over the example essay to understand the components that should be added for research essay. 

Active Engagement

10 minutes

Active Engagement: I will say, “Review the grade you received on your last essay and set a goal for yourself. Write it down on in your writing portfolio and your draft handout. You may ask your partner if you are unsure about the portion on your draft that asks “how you will accomplish your goal in your draft.”

”You will now take your draft handout and quietly write down your introduction and then go on to your second paragraph.”  I will check for understanding by quickly reading the first one or two sentence from every level of learner (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard). I am reading to determine if they understand the different parts of the sequence and if I need to re-teach a particular part.

Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember in order to draft a research essay, successful writers practice the skill of completing a first draft and the strategy of taking everything we have learned and making a draft. The process writers use is they review their last published piece and set a goal based on it. They then read over their planning organizer and then place the components of their essay in a logical sequence.



Independent Practice

25 minutes

Independent Practice: I will say, “Now you are going to write out your first draft. They should write for at least 25 minutes if not more. They should be adding all of the components of a research essay that are on the side of the rough draft sheet

As they are working independently and quietly, (I like to play classical or smooth jazz for“writing”music(I just create a play list on Pandora Internet radio) I will confer with them about their writing using the possible conferences for goal setting for a first draft.


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: For today students will turn in their drafts to me as they are walking out the door. I want to see if they added all the components of an essay  and check on the volume of their writing.  I am looking to see what revising or editing strategy most students need for the next draft. If they are not completed with the first draft, they will complete it as homework, but before they leave and while I am conferencing I am taking notes about the aforementioned for tomorrow’s lesson.

If a majority of students are not done I will ask them; “What are you having success with in your essay writing? What would you like help with?” I will take five minutes off their writing time if this is the case.