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.
After the previous lesson on revising argument, students self-assessed themselves to determine which areas they needed time to work on and which areas they needed teacher guidance with. Two areas that were mentioned quite a lot were transitions and endings. It is with this in mind that this lesson was developed. I do not want students to rely on me too much as a teacher but rather work on strengthening their skills independently. This lesson keeps that in mind as there is brief direct instruction and a large amount of time to work. It's great that students were able to figure out what help they needed, but they also need to learn how to use their resources.
I begin the class with explaining why we are doing this. I let them know that I read their index cards from their previous lesson. By acknowledging this, they are aware they have a say in what is taught in class. This helps them to engage and be motivated in class.
I pull up the follow notes on the Smartboard on transitions and endings:Revising Transitions Notes and Revising Endings Notes. These are two areas students need assistance with. It's difficult for students to use transitions in dialogues compared to essay writing. To be honest, students always struggle with natural transitions in any writing piece they do. I read each of the notes out loud and students write down these notes in their notebook. I reword each of the strategies so students can understand them if needed. It also helps to have students explain how these strategies can work in context for their specific pieces of dialogue.
To continue, I show my Where’s My Passport Argument Model so students can see these transitions in context. I show them the specific strategy of referring to a previous idea in the previous line of dialogue. This model helps students to see how they can transition in their pieces.
Both of these strategies, direct instruction and modeling, are ways to reach different learners. Some students respond to direct instruction and others to modeling. It's also helps with the idea of gradual release. Students start with direct guidance and then move on to individual practice.
The rest of class time is devoted to students working on finalizing these dialogues. This will be the last lesson they will have to work on them in class so they need to be focused as they are writing. These revisions on transitions and endings help them to focus their thinking.
Students get back with their partners and will work on finalizing their argumentative dialogues for the rest of class. They will use their computers to draft these. As students are working with their partners, I will circulate around the class. My role will focus on classroom management and making sure students are on task and focused. I will also facilitate assistance when needed. Many students access Google Drive as a way to work on their dialogues. This Google Drive video explains that. Google Drive is a great technology tool for students and teachers to use in the classroom. It's free, which is my price range, and a great way for students to share and collaborate on work.
At this point in the process students need reminders on the format. For that I refer them back to the original Biography Dialogue handout that models the format. The format changes are really minor editing changes so it's okay to focus on that at this stage in the process since earlier revisions should focus more on content.
I also give suggestions to students based on the notes discussed today. It helps when a teacher can refer to specific strategies for specific students. One group worked on highlighting their information based on categories. This example can be found here: Argument Dialogue Highlighting Student Example. This example shows the different categories and topics raised in their rough draft. I would talk the students through this and have them regroup their information so similar topics and ideas are grouped together. This will help immensely with transitions and will allow the dialogue to have a much stronger flow.