Whenever possible, I begin my lessons with silent, independent reading. During this time, I actively monitor their reading progress by checking their out-of-class reading logs and engaging in reading conferences that cover a variety of topics.
To find ways to enact this section, please see my independent reading strategy folder.
I explain the concept of the Five Minute Focus Read, or the independent reading weekly goal. Each week, every student sets an independent weekly reading goal, tailor made to the text they're reading that week. This strategy was taken from Penny Kittle.
To find more about this strategy see the lesson: Routines, routines.
Also, find out more in the strategy folder.
For today's lesson, I scanned some Student Samples: Violence and Video Game Argument from the previous day's lesson, and typed a few samples that I thought showed different attributes of effective argument writing. Today, I explain, we'll be reading the three samples that came directly from you classmate's composition notebooks. The first we'll read all together and talk about as a model, the second, you'll do in pairs, the third you'll critique on your own, then we'll speak about it in the whole group.
I read aloud the first student sample, only, pulled from my composition notebook entries. I type these and double space them, to prepare for student discussion. This allows for students to write notes in the margin, as well as annotate what works.
For the first sample, we discuss pros, always pros first. At this point in the year, students understand that we always start with the positives. What worked well? I always express to students that I choose samples that are very strong pieces of writing but that also have elements that could be improved. There is always work to be done.
I leave this discussion very open. I want students to guide me in their own direction. This is a way to see what they know and what they remember.
Then we discuss elements the anonymous writer could work to improve. We take notes as a whole class, right on the sample.
Now students will work in pairs to further observe and assess writing sample number two. I chose pairs based on who would work productively together, as well as similar reading and writing levels. I purposefully don't give a ton of guidelines and ask a more open question, what do you notice that works? What do you notice that doesn't work? Pairs also have the additional background knowledge of our whole class discussion to draw upon while evaluating.
Here, you'll see a partnership talking about author's voice and how author's engage their reader's in a non-fiction piece.
Here, a student explains one revision idea he would give to another student author.
Now it is time for students to work on their own. They silently read the last sample and make annotations on the copy, next to sample three. I give them about seven minutes to read and mark what they liked, as well as what they thought could use work.
I wrap up the day by hearing their compliments as well as their critiques. We take whole class notes on the paper, and I listen to their feedback.
I do want to hold kids accountable for independent work here, but I also think it is really important that the entire class hears from their classmates, so we can reach a consensus of what makes quality writing and what we should look to revise. This note sheet will serve as a class guide. Students can use this to generate ideas when the go to write their more formal argument paper.