Writing Analyitical Paragraphs: Mood and Characters
Lesson 9 of 10
Objective: Students will be able to write an analytical paragraph by citing evidence and explaining the impact of the author's word choice.
Today's Friday, and it's the grammar test day. In this section, I'll talk about a difference in grading these tests that I have for my honors students compared to my other classes.
For some reason, students thought that making more corrections was more important than making correct corrections. Remember, they're twelve. Logic doesn't always work with twelve year olds. Even though I'd tell them exactly what mistakes they were looking for, even though I told them how many mistakes were in each line, they'd add crazy corrections.
I instituted a new rule to help with this. Even if they got all of the real corrections right, if they made incorrect corrections they would only get 9/10. That's still an A, which, of course, is Very Important. It's just not 100%. Since this rule was implemented, the number of random, incorrect corrections has plummeted. Now that the rest of my classes scores are rising, I just may implement the same rule with them.
I spent a few moments reviewing both plot events and word choice with students. This was helpful for two reasons. First, I've been sick this week, and there are times when I'm not sure if I covered a concept well in both classes. Stepping back and reviewing allows me to make sure of that, allows students who didn't get it the first time to get it, and allows for more mastery for students who did get it. Second, if a student is absent they can catch up a bit.
I asked a random student to choose one of the events that they wrote down on their plot diagram.
First hour, the event that was chosen was at the very end of Act 1. In fact, it's the last paragraph of Act 1. The words that stand out are bolded in the picture.
The word with the most impact, of course, is menacing. If something is a menace, then it is threatening. The circle is threatening Les, and he's in the middle.
Summer added meaning to our discussion by asking us to consider the word caught. If you're caught, the assumption is that you've done something wrong. You're trapped.
Combined, those two words add subtle shades of meaning that contribute to mood. The connotations of those words is what creates the mood.
The quote that was chosen for fourth hour was at the beginning of Act 1. It's the event that starts the characters down Suspicion Street.
We focused on the difference between looking at something and staring at something, transfixed. If you look at something, you're interested. Curious, perhaps. If you stare, you're concentrating on it. If you're transfixed, it's absorbing your attention. You can't think of anything else.
Sure, it doesn't show the intense fear of the quote above, but it shows the importance of this single event. That "tremendous, screeching roar" is what led the characters own that path of suspicion and blame, and already we see the characters becoming absorbed.
I again showed students the outline we use for writing paragraphs and explained how they could go about organizing the paragraph. They don't have to start with the topic sentence. They can start with the facts, with the concrete evidence. Choose the quotes that best show an answer to the question. Explain the significance of those quotes. Write a topic sentence that introduces those. End with a concluding sentence that summarizes the whole paragraph and explains why it matters. I'm thinking of creating a small one of these that is blank and laminating them for each student. Then students can use a dry erase marker to briefly outline a paragraph before writing it. It's just an additional tool to help them. It's just an additional scaffold that I think would help all students.
Once I'd gone through the process with students, I instructed them to start writing their paragraphs, starting with the concrete evidence. I gave students about fifteen minutes to write their paragraphs before calling them together to share out.
I gave students about fifteen minutes to work on their paragraph. During this time, I met with the students who have just moved to my school and class. They've heard our terminology, they've seen all the posters in all the classrooms, but they're still not sure. I had a blank paragraph outline so I could walk them through all the different parts.
Then, after the fifteen minutes were up, I asked students to read their paragraphs aloud to their groups. There were students who hadn't finished yet, so they read what they wrote. Then I asked each group to choose one person to share with the whole class.
Here's a video of the students responding to being asked to share out and one student actually sharing out.