On Fridays, along with reading and conferring, I typically add in the option of updating shelves on Shelfari, our online social network bookshelf. How to update my Shelfari shelf.
This way, students can keep track of books they're reading, as well as write reviews and check friends' shelves. Ultimately, I am using this as a tracking device. This is how I'll know what has been read at the end of the semester, as well as the end of the school year to report to our district.
To find ways to enact this section, please see my independent reading strategy folder.
After many days of debating whether or not video games can lead to murder, students are ready to get this down in their notebooks. They have built lots of background knowledge, gathered their opinions, as well as their classmates, and should be itching to write! They also have a Teacher Drafted Note Sheet covering the debates for further study.
I advise them to state their claims at the top of their papers and then urge them to just write it out. I believe that sometimes planning and and outlines are integral organizational tools. But sometimes, I say, just write what you believe. Don't worry about when you say what. This is writing in its purest form. Don't get me wrong, it often needs to be heavily revised, but sometimes you'll get that golden, authentic voice that is often missing when you're forced to stick to an outline.
After this uninterrupted writing time, I will find samples and type a sheet filled with argument writing samples. This leads to the next day's activity, where we will read and evaluate first drafts.
In the remaining time, I ask if anyone is particularly proud of one section of their writing and would be willing to bring it to the front of the room for a whole class share.
I usually ask the students sharing to be focused in their participation. I want them to choose one line, paragraph or section that they are particularly proud of. This is a strategy I impart all year round, especially with non-ficiton writing all covering the same topic. Share time can get tiresome if students are reading their entire arguments on the same topics, over and over. A focused share (I liked this section most) cuts back on boredom and allows the audience to be more engaged.