To get the students brains focused on chronological order, I will ask the students see if they will put the events of this story in order. I will allow them to work with their groups as this could be a little more of a difficult task.
As the students are working, I'll circulate through the room to check for understanding, provide guidance, and assess their recall of the previous lesson. I want the students to be able to use the skills we practiced yesterday (using transition words/phrases) to demonstrate understanding.
Once they think they have the story in order, I'll place the correct version of the paragraph on the board and talk about how they came up with their response.
This will lead us into discussing our goal today of writing using the text structure of chronological order.
Once we have all reviewed the text structure of chronological order and feel comfortable with how it is constructed, I am going to go through what I want the students to do for the the writing assignment.
First, I'll review with the students the steps for writing. Many sixth graders do not remember to follow the steps and rush into the writing, often finding themselves stuck. I stress the writing process in my classroom because it truly helps those struggling writers find success.
As a class, we will brainstorm some ideas we can write about. I will generate this list on the board with the students. Next, I will model with the students how I would pick a topic. What topic do I enjoy talking about the most? What topic could I use to "tell a story in order"? Essentially that is what the structure does. Could I give directions or instructions on how to do something?
Once I have decided on a topic, I want to fill out the graphic organizer. I will model this step using a story of my beagle and a time he got into the garbage can. The students can see how a writer thinks when constructing details. I often talk aloud as I'm writing and will erase ideas I'm not too happy about. I think it is good for the students to see how a real writer doesn't just breeze through it. It takes time and lots of revisions!
I will just take the students through the steps of completing the graphic organizer. I will remind them that we are just writing down basic details and can and will add more to our paragraphs when we write the first draft.
I will review the steps; brainstorm, graphic organizer, first draft of paragraph. Once the students have an understanding of the steps I will let them work.
Independently writing is a task most middle school teachers have to mentally prepare themselves for. A lot of students do not enjoy writing and it can take a lot of encouragement to even get them to start.
One way I battle this is to require all students to brainstorm first. I tell the students that brainstorming is like warming up the oven before you bake. You have to get your brain thinking before you can just write.
Even brainstorming can present some struggles, so I will really play the crowd while they are working. I'll circulate the room, sharing other students' brainstorm list, throwing out ideas of my own. I'll sit and conference with the struggling students, trying to generate ideas. Finally, if they absolutely refuse and can think of NOTHING to write about, I give them a topic.
As students brainstorm, I'll make suggestions to what I think may be a good topic from their list. I'll ask them questions about their topic, to help create details.
Then, I'll approve their list and encourage them to start on the graphic organizers. Again, I will do much of the same here. I'll circulate, guide, and check for understanding.
One thing students will struggle with is realizing they can pull many events from one sentence. I may work with some of my struggling learners and show them how to do this.
Finally, once their graphic organizers are complete, I'll have them start on the first draft of their paragraph. I call it the first draft because most students will have to revise for some reason.
As they are working, I'll check for topic sentences, closing sentences, good word choice. I like to be involved as they are writing to give as much feedback on the spot as I can. It actually makes the grading a lot easier!
Finally, I'll have the students turn the paragraphs in once they are finished or take them home to finish.
To close this lesson, I want the students to think beyond the "what" and think of the "why." Why would an author write in chronological order? When would it be more beneficial to write using this structure over description?
I'll ask the students to complete a Closure Slip to check for understanding and to help them process what they have learned. I can use this slip to help guide future lesson planning.