Today, we will finally get around to finishing our literary analysis essay. State testing and snow days have created some large gaps between the start of the essay and our polishing today, so I feel it important to start with a review. My students are still feeling disconnected from the state testing, so this review needs to be active.
I ask students to form a circle on their feet. I join them with a stress ball in hand (though any ball safe to toss around a classroom would work). I explain that we will play a simple ball-toss game; each time a student catches the ball, he must give one element found in a good essay. To ease the fear of students who struggle with hand-eye coordination (I know the terror myself), I request that whomever holds the ball says the name of the student who will receive it next before actually tossing it. Repeated elements are fine so long as the pace doesn't slow; those which we hear more than once must stick with us for a reason, after all.
Students begin to pass the ball:
"That connection stuff."
"Explanation, right?" (heads nod here)
Etc. When students hit all the elements I want to hear, I call for the ball and recap their comments, asking for clarification:
Someone mentioned using a dash; when would that be appropriate?
"For emphasis?" Yes.
Finally, I ask students to open the assignment for the literary analysis essay and call on students to read off required elements.
With requirements now fresh in our minds, we walk to the computer lab to make revisions.
In the lab, students combine our warm-up reminders with the student feedback they have already received on their essays to make revisions to strengthen their writing. They focus in particular on how the essay will meet audience style expectations and on how media and headings can help influence the reader. I have little to do but keep them on task; questions about feedback are directed back to the students who left the comments in the first place. I circulate as needed to keep students focused. At the end of the hour, I collect drafts so that I may give feedback: