To open class today, I welcome students to "National Nutella Day," and ask, "What's the best recipe you've ever had with Nutella?" I'll take a few responses, in order to give students practice presenting their ideas and information to the class (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4).
I also remind students of today's objective, to draft a descriptive sketch that, by using figurative language, puts their reader in the moment that inspired one of their group's similes (see "Similes are Like Kittens Glued Together" for this assignment).
As always, Daily Holidays such as this serve to build student ownership and a sense of community in the class.
Today's look at extending their similes to a longer piece of descriptive writing shows students how and calls upon students to demonstrate authors' use of figurative language, particularly to establish a sense of place, to establish setting. In Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism, particularly in the stories we read in this unit, descriptive language of setting is a key element to understanding tone and themes. Understanding "place" certainly contributes to understanding local color and the events that transpire there.
Students are using the similes they already have ownership of, the group-created similes from yesterday's practice, as the title and key idea of their piece of descriptive writing. This piece will be revisited later, with "The Great Gatsby", in order to provide students a chance to grow as writers.
Students were given their "Descriptive Sketch Directions", the prompt and an introduction to descriptive writing, to read last night for homework. Today is a lab day. As such, it is primarily student-driven; they are crafting a rough draft of their descriptive sketch. Additionally, they may draw from other students as they write, working collaboratively and encouraging each other. In order to practice descriptive writing, detail, and the nuances of language that create strong figurative language, particularly similes, (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.5), students are writing a one-to-two page descriptive sketch about the recent weather.
As students write their descriptive sketches, I circulate the lab offering assistance, clarification, and feedback as required. (This video was created during the students' lunch break, as we have a "split" class, twenty-five minutes, a twenty-five minute lunch, and an additional "twenty-five minutes." I recorded myself, uploaded the video to the online grade book/Home Access Center and my folder on the school's Intranet. Once students returned to class, I let them know the video was available if they wanted to check, or I would still be circulating the lab as well.)
I chose to use descriptive writing, rather than a full narrative, for this writing for two reasons. One, descriptive writing allows a greater focus on CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3d, as students use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters, while demonstrating understanding of figurative language. Students are not using a variety of narrative techniques, but do need to establish description of the setting (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3b). The call for use of figurative language provides a variety of techniques to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent description of their experience with the weather (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3c).
Secondly, the conference literary festival is coming up, and descriptive sketch is an under-represented category. By asking students to complete an example of this genre, I can encourage them to write for publication.
With two minutes remaining in the class, I ask students for the attention, remind them that a typed rough draft of their descriptive paper is due tomorrow, and if they need further access to a computer to type to see me for a pass. I also remind students to bring their textbook tomorrow.