Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
The main part of the lesson serves as a review of different revision and editing strategies that students have encountered over the years, and in my class specifically. Revision is one of the most important steps of the writing process and it is important that students know these skills an strategies so they can effectively improve their writing. Students are armed with the various tools to write an effective DBQ with the hope that they will be able to use them on their own. This part of the lesson isn't so much of direct instruction but guided instruction as I show students various ways to revise and edit their document based questions essays when needed. They will spend time outside of school to work on their essays. Once they do that, they have these strategies to revise their essays on their own.
I pull up the Revising and Editing Powerpoint on the Smartboard. I go through each slide as students follow along. They may not directly work on these strategies today but they are at least aware of these tools.
The strategies focus on ways to improve each of the areas of these essays that have been reviewed throughout this entire unit
Gradual release can be incredibly scary as a teacher. I always wonder if students are able to do this work independently. I also know that if they do, the reward is great and that is why I do this in this lesson. The students are usually motivated because they are the one's making the decisions and the teacher is not. Middle schoolers love doing things on their own and when they can work on their own, they are happy.
At this point in the writing process students are at different stages. I try and give students time to write in class as much as possible so I can guide them and assist them as needed so they can build on their argumentative writing skills. Some have not formed a solid thesis and others are able to work on the revision steps discussed earlier.
I allow students to work on the essays based on the stage they are currently at. They have the following resources that they can refer to as they are drafting their essays:
They can use these resources to refer depending on the stage they are on. Some students prefer to use the overview to see what the expectations are. Others are working on their graphic organizer to work through their thinking. Others are drafting and refer back to the example to see how an effective essay is written.
As students are working independently, I circulate around the classroom to assist students based on the stage they are currently on. Since this type of writing is new for many students they need as much assistance as possible but I am mindful not to merely tell them how to write but guide them along throughout the process. The hard part is not giving them the answer but showing them how to get there. Usually they are frustrated when I do not tell them exactly what to do. To support students during this I focus on my questioning techniques. I ask them a lot of why and how. Students can really rise to the occasion when they are able to talk through their thinking. In that process I offer them slight suggestions for what they need to do.