Today I want the students to be able to write a claim about a various topic independently, so I have organized a rotation that will keep them active and give them plenty of practice. I grouped the students so that they can offer each other support and make sure that the claims are written correctly.
The first step is to think of about 12-15 topics that pertain to sixth graders. I want to choose things that they care about and are interested in. I cut up pieces of card stock and wrote a topic on each card.
The topics I used include:
Before we start, I will explain that the I will be supplying them with a topic. The example I'll use for modeling is "having P.E. 5 days a week." I'll explain that the claim they write must:
I came up with #3 after my lesson yesterday where everyone was calling the topic IT and THAT instead of taking the time to write it! Grrrrr!
I will ask students their opinions on having P.E. everyday, and I will take what they say to write a statement.
For example: Having P.E. everyday during the week would keep students healthy and happy.
Next, I will have students form groups of 2 or 3. Each group needs a large whiteboard or paper and a marker.
I'll give them a topic to practice like "field trips", and ask them to practice writing a claim with their partner. During this time, I will monitor the groups and make sure they are following the correct protocol of writing a complete sentence and referring to the topic.
Once we've all practiced, I will give each group a card with a topic on it. I am planning on having them rotate in sort of a circle, but to keep them on track, I'll have each group put a number on their whiteboard. That way even if someone starts at #7, they know (hopefully) to go to #8 next.
Each group of partners will rotate from group to group reading the topic and the claims that were previously written on the whiteboards before writing their own claim. Once they've written a claim, the students will move on to the next whiteboard and repeat the process.
Once students have rotated through all of the groups, they will go back to their original whiteboard and read the claims that have been written. I will ask them to first eliminate any that don't meet our original criteria of writing a complete sentence that addresses the topic. I'll have them erase these from their white boards. The students will pick the claim that they feel is the best of the claims that are left.
We will spend a few minutes sharing out these claims with the entire class.
Here is one example from a group whose original topic was grounding as a punishment. I had to include it because it made me laugh out loud! They thought it was pretty funny too which is why they left it on the board to share with the class. Here is one more example about mandatory helmet laws for bikes, skateboards, and scooters.
I know that I am spending quite a bit of time on writing claims, but I feel that it is really necessary to do in order for them to begin argumentative writing. I want them to understand that they are writing to support a position. Since Common Core promotes such a focus on this type of writing, I want to make sure that my students have a strong foundation.
To close this lesson, they students will take this final claim that they have chosen, and come up with at least 3 reasons to support it. Students may end up with a claim that they don't agree with and that is fine! It is good for them to stretch their minds and think from other viewpoints every now and then! Plus, these are all topics sixth graders can relate to, so it shouldn't be too difficult for them to see both sides of an issue.
I will ask students to do this individually, so I can see clearly who needs help generating supporting details. If a student is having too much trouble coming up with reasons for a particular claim, I will allow him or her to choose a different claim that is easier. The whole idea is to get my students used to supporting their ideas.
Here are some student work samples: