What attracts readers to a book or movie? For me, I get enticed by stories and movies that hook me at the beginning and leave me on the edge of my seat at the end. This same feeling should be felt by readers and writers of essays. The focus of this lesson stems from the claims students make on how America has matured over centuries. To make these claims, students are writing a compare and contrast essay comparing our national anthem to other songs of past histories.
To get students in the mood of being an editor, two paragraphs are posted on the board for with thesis statements to like or dislike. I normally guide thinking on the criteria used to evaluate writing samples. However, not all students notice the same important things in each writing which serves as a great conversational piece on what's an important element of writing.
I have highlighted in yellow the thesis statements in each paragraph. Because each contain strong arguments about food, students may have a hard time disliking either paragraph. However, there are many ways to have students address this activity. With our focus on claims in writing, I ask students to analyze the thesis based on its placement and length.
Prior to students moving into looking over sample writings, notes from a Introduce, Grabber, & Keep my Attention power point is shown to students. As I guide a class discussion on the processes of starting and ending an essay, students will take notes on the criteria needed to evaluate introductory and concluding paragraphs in compare and contrast essays.
For the remainder of class, students work in pairs to rank Sample Grabbers & Conclusions paragraphs. Each paragraph is cut into different slips of paper and placed in a ziploc bag. To begin the evaluation process, students place thier introduction and conclusion paragraphs in two separate columns on thier desk. Then, students use their own criteria to rank these samples. From the analysis of a student in this video clip, students relied on each other to agree what was important in writings against others that seemed better.