We Wrote the "Head," Time for the Body Paragraphs

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Objective

SWBAT use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify relationships between claims and reasons by focusing on and developing strong topic sentences.

Big Idea

Teaching my students how to write topic sentences well is important because topic sentences link claims and create a more cohesive essay.

Getting Started

5 minutes

Just like yesterday, I will collect the answers to the questions to chapter 22 of Great Expectations, which they read independently. These questions are merely a reading check and will be entered into the grade book as a homework grade; I am collecting the questions each day to keep them on track. I would hate for any of them to procrastinate so much that they have to read a week's worth of chapters in one day, especially since all teachers know such reading would never happen!

I will also ask them to put the necessary tools for today's lesson on their desks: the prompt, their outline, intro, and the model long composition.

The Under-ultized, but Ever-Important Topic Sentence

15 minutes

We will start today by rereading the first two paragraphs of the model long composition I wrote several years ago on To Kill a Mockingbird. I use this model because all students have read To Kill a Mockingbird, so the text is familiar; therefore they can focus on structure instead of content (W.9-10.5). I am using this essay to talk about topic sentences (W.9-10.1c). For whatever reason, students have trouble understanding why topic sentences are important; instead they prefer to write abstract sentences about potential problems and life in general. My theory is that they write even though they haven't quite figured out the essential argument of the essay, possibly because they haven't mastered that skill yet. I am hoping that our discussion will help clarify some of the differences between a middle-school book report and an analytical essay.

Writing Body Paragraphs

30 minutes

After our focus on topic sentences, I will direct student to pick up where they left off, writing and making edits as needed. Some are just beginning body paragraphs, while others have made good headway (W.9-10.1). I will walk among the students answering questions and providing advice. Mostly I will be checking for strong topic sentences (W.9-10.1b), clear textual evidence, and analysis that aligns with their theme statements (W.9-10.1c), all while implementing a formal and cogent argument (W.9-10.1d).

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

In the last few minutes of class I will remind students are their homework-- reading chapter 25 of Great Expectations and answering the respective questions-- and I will give them time to write it in their agenda books.