Today, we will focus on adding transitions to my students' comparison contrast essays. For the past few class sessions, we have been working on comparing and contrasting two characters in "The Gift of the Magi," by O. Henry, and "The Necklace," by Guy de Maupassant. Today, we will focus on adding transitions because these transitions will help my students develop coherent and unified essays. Especially for this type of writing (comparison contrast), the audience will need to see relationships between ideas. Therefore, it is extremely important that my students know how to include transition words to improve their writing.
For the "Do Now" today, I will direct my students to read the list of comparison and contrast transitions that I have placed on their desks. I will tell students that we will add one final touch to their essays before we publish the final draft: appropriate transitions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2c) to show relationships between ideas. I am doing this because their essays have been lacking in this area, and it's just good writing practice.
For this section of the lesson, we will look more closely at the categories on the list of transitions for comparison contrast essays. I found this list here. I want them to look closely at this list of transitions because it can be used as a reference/cheat sheet for their future writing. I also want to expose my students to the types of transitions that work well with comparison contrast essays.
In order to ensure that my students see the point of adding transitions, we will add them in "real time" right now during this part of the lesson. I will ask my students to read through the first body paragraph and find the place in the paragraph where they give details about the first character. Then, I will have them continue reading until they begin talking about the second character. I will tell them to place their finger on the spot. I will tell my students that their finger marks the spot where they need to add a transition. I will ask them to look through the cheat sheet and find a transition that makes their paragraph flow smoothly (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2c) and insert it into their draft by writing it above the sentence.
I am having my students work on it this way because I want them to notice a difference in their paragraphs when they have including these wonderful transition words. This is an opportunity for my students to have a "WIN" with their writing, and they can get positive reinforcement right away when they share their revised sentences with their peers.
In this brief application section, I will ask my students to go through each body paragraph and find the places where they start comparing or contrasting the second character from the stories. I am asking them to add transitions to each of these paragraphs. While they are working, I will walk around to see how many of them are actually using the cheat sheet in the way that I have planned. I think this is a key part of the lesson because my students will spend a focused period of time re-reading their drafts and including transitions that are purposeful and effective. (If I simply ask them to add these transitions at home, it is not very likely that it will happen.) I am also having them do this because I want them to be able to see a transformation between the paragraphs they had already written and the ones that emerge from adding transitional expressions.
After about 10 minutes have passed, I will ask several students to share the sentences to which they have the added transitions and a rationale for why they selected them (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4). I am having them do this so that they all can hear how much more smoothly their ideas sound and so that they can practice supporting their choices in a way that sounds logical to others.
Check out this instructional video of how to use the cheat sheet: Transitions Cheat Sheet
For this section of the lesson, I want my students to add transitions to the beginnings of the paragraphs for an even smoother flow of ideas (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2c). I will provide the following examples:
I am providing these models because I am hoping that my students will notice the improvements to organization that these transitions provide. After the model, I will give my students several minutes to decide which transitions to use for all of the paragraphs except the conclusion.
I am having them do it this way because this is another opportunity to spend focused time looking at places in their writing where they can add transitions to their topic sentences for each paragraph without worrying about any other aspect of the revision process.
For the concluding paragraph, I will draw their attention to the appropriate transitions on the cheat sheet that would work for concluding paragraphs. I will ask them to select the best transition--not just the ones they always use.
Before turning them loose to apply, I will remind my students that they must decide which transitions are most effective based on the relationships to the ideas they have written.
Overall, my decision to do this step-by-step revision process will be much less overwhelming than asking them to do general revisions and edits on their own.
For this section, I will give students 10 minutes or so to develop transitions for the rest of the body paragraphs and the conclusion. As they work on this, I will be circulating to each table and having each student share their transitions with me before we go to the computer lab. I am doing this in order to check for understanding of how transitions improve writing.
This video shows two students' use of organizational transitions and comparison contrast transitions: Students Use Transitions
For this section of the lesson, I will ask my students to use all of the feedback they have received so far to strengthen and publish (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5) a final draft that adheres to MLA format and compares two characters from two different texts. I will provide time for them to type/revise (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6) their final drafts in the computer lab.
I am giving them in-class time to do this because I want to be able to answer any last minute questions and catch any glaring errors that I see as I look over their shoulders while they work. Don't worry, I'll be giving lots of positive feedback too!
To wrap up the lesson today, I will be giving instructions for submitting unfinished essays. I am sure that some students will not be able to finish making their corrections because they will have procrastinated a bit with their typing, so I am allowing them to email them to me by midnight. Believe it or not, this is also a learning experience because in some college courses, professors will give them midnight deadlines for emailing assignments. I'll show students how to email a document (since this has been a burning question in the past) and remind them that the deadline is 11:59pm. I will also check-in to see if anyone has any questions or concerns about meeting the deadline. This way I can avoid any excuses for not getting their assignment in ON TIME!