Write an Essay: My City

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Objective

SWBAT use background knowledge to write a 5 paragraph essay on their city

Big Idea

Give students practice with generating ideas, planning, and drafting a 5 paragraph essay about a topic which they are experts.

Mini-lesson

10 minutes

"Good Morning students, today you will be writing your third flash draft.  We started with writing about your special place in your home, then you made your circle bigger, and you wrote about three places in your neighborhood.  Now you will widen your lens even bigger and write about three places in our city.  Make sure you pick three places that you have been to so you can write about them from experience.  That will make the planning and drafting a snap for you.

I am going to demonstrate how I plan my essay with boxes and bullets.  Planning first before writing helps to organize your thoughts.  When you write your draft from your plan your essay will be organized in a way that makes sense.  You'll be able to write your ideas clearly so the reader can understand your reasons.

First of all to help you generate some ideas about places in Seattle, I am going to show you a  slide show of places in Seattle.  Let's take a look at this.  As you are watching, be deciding if you want to write about any of these places."

Show slide presentation (one of your city).

"Now turn and talk about ideas you have to write about.  Pick three places from the slide show or from any other place you have visited in Seattle."

Call on a few students to share what they are going to write about.

Now, Let me show you my planning form- seattle essay boxes & bullets.  First, I thought of a simple claim statement.  I wrote, "Seattle has many great places to visit.  Then I listed the three places I am writing about.  This will turn into my introduction paragraph.

Next, I planned my second paragraph, see how I wrote a main idea sentence in the box?  Then I thought of details to tell more about this place.  I did the same thing for paragraphs 3 and 4. The last paragraph is called the conclusion.  In this paragraph, I'll write my claim statement again, and list the three places I like to visit. I like to think of an ending sentence to finish off my essay.

Now, it is your turn.  In a minute you will go back to your seat and begin to plan your essay about three places in Seattle.  I have boxes and bullets planning sheets if you want to use them- or you can use your own paper to make boxes and bullets.  Either way is fine, as long as you plan your essay before you start drafting.

Independent Work

30 minutes

During independent work, give the students a few minutes to settle in.  I do not start conferring until I see that most of the students are engaged in the task.

After 5 minutes or so, I go to a table of students and quietly interrupt their work by saying- let me hear what different places in Seattle you are writing about.  Have students quietly share with each other- taking turns.  This table conference will spur on any writers who might be slow to generate places to write about.

Also, I have found students at neighboring tables also get ideas by listening in, too.  Continue in this manner- moving from table to table as a formative assessment.

After about 15 minutes, do a mid-workshop interruption.  You might say something like,

"Excuse me students, I want to share with you some of the great writing plans that I am reading.  Some student are writing about the library, and the shopping center.  Other students are writing about the Space Needle, The Seattle Aquarium, and The Seattle Art Museum.  These are all great places to write about.  Remember to tell more information about each place by adding details next to the bullet points.  Ok, Students back to writing" in about 15 minutes we will gather on the rug to share our progress.

One-to-One conference:  If you have a student who is slow to get going pull up a chair and begin by complimenting them on something they are doing right then.  Then ask them what is going well? Ask, "What are you trying to do?  They will probably say, "I'm trying to think of another place to write about."  Read their plan and see how far they have gotten. Ask the student questions based on what you know about their hobbies and families.  This will help them come up with ideas.  it is important that writing does not become a power struggle with the student.  I try to figure out a way to support the student to get going without enabling them to rely on teacher help.

Sometimes a student will get stuck- when that happens, I help them after or before school.  I call the parents and set up a time for them to stay late or come in early.  If the students know you are available to help them- it reduces the power struggle- "I cant think of anything to write".

Share out

10 minutes

Quickly convene students on the rug for a short share out.  Sometimes I let students raise their hands to share, but more often I am on the lookout during conferring for something a student has done that I want other students to start doing.

After you have decided  who's work you want to share with the class (maybe two examples)  ask the students if it is ok if you share their smart thinking and writing with the class.  The purpose of the share out is to show students another student's writing plan.  A plan where the student was successful with generating ideas of places to write about and details to explain more about the place.  I show a variety of student work and compliment them on how much they got done.  Some maybe only finished the first couple of boxes- another student maybe completely finished, and a third might have already started their draft ("My City" student work screencast).

Extension:

Some of the students were ready to widen their focus and write about three places in the state of Washington.  So they followed the same format and generated ideas and completed a plan.  Next they wrote about three places in the state of Washington using their background knowledge in a flash draft.

They followed the same procedure they used in the first three essays.  These students were excited to share where they had been and details about each place.