I want to get students excited about writing so I share with them that I'm thinking of getting a few new books for our class library. I tell them that I will read the first sentences from each and then they will be asked to signal "like", "dislike" after each is read. I ask students from each group of signals to share why they feel this way?
I read each opener from the worksheet and have them signal and share. At the end of the readings I ask them which one they liked the best? I had a close tie for all three (which was what I had been hoping for)
This is how I introduce the lesson objective. I tell students that readers often judge whether a book is interesting or not interesting by reading the first opening paragraph. To be a good author, one that others want to read your works, we need to write "Great Openers" so that we can attract readers to our writing.
We read over and discuss each type and the examples given.
I ask students to practice with me as we create four different "great openers" using our class topic (food allergies).
We first look at the Fact Opener and I share with students that I just read an interesting fact on allergies that I feel would be a good way to get my reader's attention, "According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011."
I go on to say, that means one out of every two students has or will get a food allergy! This definitely gets their attention!
I tell them that while we like this introduction we need to try other formats to see which one fits the purpose of our paper the best. We look at the quotation opener. I ask students where someone would look to get a quotation? Students give responses. If good ideas are generated I give them credit and do a quick search on my laptop for a quote but are unable to share accurately I tell them that we can search the internet for quotes and I walk them through the steps for how to type a quote search in the search box.
We add the quote to the next section on the "Writing Your Introduction" worksheet.
I ask students what questions they have on the topic. Take responses and add one to the worksheet under Question Opener.
Lastly I ask someone who has allergies to share their experiences and write a few sentences under the Narrative/ Short Story opener section.
I ask students to think about three things before they evaluate the opener: (write on board)
1. What is the topic of this paper?
2. What is the purpose of this paper? (Informative or entertainment?)
3. Who will the audience be?
Then we vote for the one which we feel would be the best introductory sentence to our research essay.
Students are now asked to follow this same pattern to complete their introductory opener worksheet. I set a timer for 20 min to keep them focused and walk around to help those who are struggling. I still have some who are struggling to get their thoughts in order.
After this time I see about 80% are completed and I signal for them to find their elbow partners and then evaluate the best introductory sentence for their partners thinking about topic, purpose and audience. They discuss and share ideas and then I have them share great examples - theirs or others out loud. This helps my strugglers to get ideas and those who received more criticism than praise to get examples of what they should aspire to with thier own writing.
Students are now released to add their best introductory sentence to their "Writing a Great Opener" worksheet (Triangle). Now they have the topic in mind and can more easily add the 4-5 questions that they are still wondering about their topics. Partners exchange again and this time offer additional questions on the others topic.
Here's examples of some students with great beginnings (as voted on by their peers)
Timer is set for 10 min more and students are instructed to think of four-five questions they have about their topic and to write them on their worksheet. They swap with partners again and get more questions from their peers on their topics. I have had this be a elbow partner share or a whole class - move around and talk - share.
Signal given and students are asked to write a thesis statement (why are they writing this paper?) at the bottom of their worksheets (10 more min) - (these often are not strong statements but this gives me the ability to review those who have a solid understanding of the components of the paragraph, and those who do not. - I small group with those who struggle)
I have them meet with me again and I collect their writing outlines.
We review the "Evaluating the Thesis Statement" worksheet as a whole. If time allows we complete it all as a group. If not, we review the 1st question and I send the rest home for homework.
I give them the opportunity in the revise/ edit phase of this report writing to revise their thesis if their information changes or they decide it is no longer the focus of their report after they read about their topic.
I have my students work on computers at their center-time during guided reading groups. I have also had them write their entire reports before they typed them into a document in the past but found that typing in smaller increments was easier for those who really struggled with keyboarding - plus it gives them practice of this skill for a longer time period!