Today students will work in the library to write their essay drafts in preparation for revision instruction tomorrow. I chose to give them a writing day so I could touch base with all of them on their ideas, and help guide those who are struggling to get started (this, incidentally, is why I always choose the library versus a computer lab. Our library has tables and study carrels with computers, rather than three walls with computers a foot apart and chairs with wheels. The environment allows me to pull up a chair next to the student if I need to, or have them come sit at a table to talk, without other students hovering quite so closely). While it seemed from previous classes that everyone feels ready to go, I can’t be completely confident in that until I talk to them one on one. My basic questions for the students will be to tell me their central idea, then tell me what stories they want to use to get there. There answers and the subsequent discussions will give me a sense of their topics so I can be better prepared as they revise, and also so I can guide students to the model essay most appropriate for their topics. Given that they had some challenges focusing on a central idea in the synthesis essays, I will be particularly cognizant of how well they are focusing on a topic. Additionally, from past experience teaching arguments, the students tend to try to develop arguments that are too big and generalized, so expect I will be asking follow-up questions regarding their central ideas that will lead them to specify their positions more clearly.
Next Steps: students will bring in a hard copy of their draft tomorrow as we do more instruction on language and the revising process.