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.
One of the major shifts of the Common Core is this emphasis on argument. It's not just writing an argumentative piece, but it also involves determining a writer's claim and deciding what evidence in a text best supports that claim. It's important to give students practice to master this skill. At times guided practice can be important but it's also beneficial for students to work on this skill independently so they can internalize it and also practice for any high-stakes testing that may occur. This lesson does a little of both.
I pass out a copy of an article titled "How Have Tools Like Google And Youtube Changed The Way You Work?" This article is perfect at this moment in time as we are working on our research skills as we make our way towards creating the research paper. I make sure that students have a printed copy so they can take notes as needed. Some students will choose to do so and others will not. It's important to at least give them the option. This Google Youtube Article Explanation video discusses the highlights of the article.
I instruct students to read through the article once. I don't give them the directions for what they will need to write, yet. In order for close-reading to work successfully they need to have an understanding of what the text is about first. They can't analyze writing without first getting the main gist of the article. Once they read through the article once, they can go back and analyze the writing and content. After students read it through once I tell them to read it through a second time. I put the following instructions on the white-board: Read through the article a second time. As you read determine what the author's claim is and what evidence best supports that.
They will turn this into a brief writing assignment in their notebooks by writing down their thinking. The idea behind this article is the author is very much split on the use of technology. She appears to be against Google for research but brings up examples of how Youtube helps her. Both of these are tools students use so this serves as great high-interest article.
As students are working on this, I circulate around the classroom. The only assistance I offer is if students are not writing. I want students to begin to practice writing independently without as much teacher help. I don't want them to use me as a crutch. If students are struggling with writing, I give them a simple sentence starter. I ask them to tell me what the author thinks of Google and of Youtube. This helps them to begin to at least pinpoint certain aspects of the article.
Here is an example of the beginning of student work with my notes as to where this student can go next. These notes are a way to help them think critically. You can also see an example of student work here.
After students determine the main idea of the article, I then have students think about how this relates to them, so they can practice their argumentative writing skills. While the Common Core does not necessarily dictate reflection, a great way for students to get engaged in non-fiction articles is to find ones they can relate to. Students are very much "wired" into technology especially with Youtube and Google so the expectation is that they will have a lot to say about this topic.
Students continue to work with HHow Have Tools Like Google And Youtube Changed The Way You Work Article". For the rest of the class I have students do the following:
"Write a brief essay in your notebooks in which you answer the question the title of the article raises. How was Google and Youtube changed the way you find information? Use examples from your own life and evidence from the article to best support your ideas."
These instructions are also on the white-board. Students will write this essay in their notebooks in which they answer that question. By writing a response in this format, students are able to work on a few different skills. They are indirectly working on argument, in which they have to support a point. They are also working on determining which evidence from another source will best support their own thinking so they are evaluating information from other sources. All of these are skills that will culminate in their research paper and it also helps them practice for standardized tests.
This video on my weebsite page for Notebook Writing discusses the use of my web-site in the classroom as a way to foster engagement.
The only struggle to anticipate with students is if they are able to think critically about research. While they may have a lot to say about the benefits of Google and Youtube they may not be able to think how it has changed their research skills since they have always used it to research. If that's they case, the focus of the writing can change from how have these tools changed the way you research and become how have these tools affected the way you think or even the way you communicate.
As students are working I will circulate around the classroom to merely check that they are on task. This is not a time where I want to offer a lot of guidance as I want to use this time as an assessment to see how they are able to write independently.
Here is an example of Student Writing for the brief essay and this Google Youtube Article Student Writing Example 2 shows comments I would give to the student. These also show student work: Google Youtube Article Student Work 3 and Google Youtube Article Student Work 4