Source #1: Analyzing the Author's Organization Cornerstone

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Students will be able to analyze how an author uses nonfiction organizational techniques to achieve a purpose.

Big Idea

In which we learn about history to understand an author's motivation for writing literature.

Daily Grammar

15 minutes

 There aren't any titles in today's paragraph, but wait until tomorrow!  Instead, we're looking at frequently confused words (quiet and quite), verb tenses, homonyms (too/to/two), and punctuating and capitalizing city and country names.


Using Reference Sheets to Help Analyze An Author's Organizational Structure

15 minutes

Yesterday we looked at the main ideas of "August 28 1955: Emmett Till."  Today we're looking at what the author wants to achieve with the article and how the author went about doing so. We're looking at how the author organized those main ideas and supporting details (or, in the language at my school, concrete evidence and commentary).  


For homework yesterday, I asked students to write a thesis statement that would introduce the author's main ideas.  I asked students to read their thesis statements in their group, choose the best one, and write it on a dry erase board.  We could then narrow it down (or combine statements) to create a guiding thesis statement.


Emmett Till was brutally killed by two white men after allegedly flirting with a white woman.


Yesterday I gave students this chart to show how students organize paragraphs and essays.  It's a critical component of today's lesson. We're using it to see how the author of "August 28, 1955: Emmett Till" organized the main ideas and supporting details.   If the author wanted to inform the reader how Emmett Till was brutally killed, what organizational structure would they most likely be using? 


I directed students to look at the questions in the first column of the handout to help them sort out which organizational structure the author used.  Then they circled signal, or transition words, to check for accuracy.




I used the questions on the picture to the left to help guide students' thinking.


The author is using chronological, or sequential order to organize the main ideas. 


The author uses signal words like August 23, a few days later, after, three days later, and less than two weeks after to show that the events are being described in the order in which they happened--chronologically.  That's pretty much it, or so I thought.

While I was walking around, checking on groups, one student mention that she thought that it was also written in cause and effect order.  Then another student in another group said the same thing.  And a third student in a third group said that!  They were totally right.  The article uses both sequential and cause and effect order to develop the main ideas.  I was so focused on chronological order that I didn't see what they saw. 

Then they wrote the third quickwite to show their understanding of what we'd uncovered so far.



Analyzing How Paragraphs Develop an Essay

15 minutes

Once we'd discovered that the author used chronological and cause and effect order, we looked at how that played out in each individual paragraph. If you were to give a name to each paragraph, what two or three words would you use to name it?  One student asked if it was kind of like writing headings, which is exactly what I was asking them to do.











 Paragraph 1 is the introduction and contains the main idea (thesis statement).



Paragraph 2 could be titled Till's Background or First Days in Money.  Paragraph 3 (not pictured) is about the kidnapping and murder.  Paragraph 4's purpose is to aftermath of the murder. Paragraph 5 explains what happened during the trial, and the last paragraph puts Till's murder into historical context.

 Once students had discussed these things in groups, I posed the questions on the left to them, and they wrote another quickwrite.




Lesson Resources

Today's lesson picture is the anchor chart I created for my classroom to show some symbols we can use for annotating articles.