I waitressed at Pizza Hut during my student teaching. One evening, the manager told us the new menus had been delivered, and to throw the old ones away at closing. The future teacher in me immediately saw possibilities in owning thirty copies of the same item, and anxiously saved them. About ten years ago, I acquired Applebees menus while eating at the restaurant, and seeing a date sticker about new menus coming. The early bird catches the worm, and those menus still make annual appearances in my classroom. Never be afraid to throw out the "teacher card" and ask, strange as the request may seem!
Having these two menu sets has proven to be a lot of fun. I use them for ELA and Math lessons, and the kids love it. The objective today will be met using the standard of RI.5.5 to compare and contrast the information in the two texts (menus) and then W.5.1 to write persuasive dialogue that convinces people either to eat at the restaurant of choice or not eat there. The kids will perform their skits.
I begin the lesson with a warm up to get them thinking about restaurants and restaurant words. The warm up gives no hint as to where this is headed, and it's fun to see slightly baffled looks on their faces. On the board we brainstorm words found on menus: delicious, specials, kid's menu, etc. As soon as it starts to get silly, it's time to move on to the next activity, and everyone's interested to see what's next. I ask two kids to volunteer -not as a pair- to spontaneously act out an illustration of persuading someone (Persuasion dialogue example for the class). They can choose any type of topic. There are a few original examples, but for the most part they take a cue from the Smart Board and use restaurant ideas. I have to cut the activity off because they're having such fun with it. It's a great lead-in to the main activity.
Before I show Pizza Hut and Applebees Menus, I ask the kids to name favorite restaurants. It's not that I'm expecting, or even hoping to hear Pizza Hut or Applebees, I just want to gear their minds towards the theme.
I write the restaurant names on the board. Next, I ask two volunteers to come forward and role play a typical conversation in that restaurant.
Bringing out the menus is fun. I've already shuffled them together because random distribution is an easy way to pass them out. After I explain the directions, I don't care if they trade menus as they gather in groups and compare. They use a Double Bubble Thinking Map to organize their notes about the similarities and differences between the two menus, and list the items in the circles. (Writing comparisons on Double Bubbles)
After they're familiar with the menus, (*disclaimer- the Pizza Hut menus are from 1989 and the prices are very low) they write a dialogue with the person/people they're working with to persuade others to visit these restaurants (Writing Dialogue). On the flip side, they may want to persuade others NOT to visit either restaurant. As long as they're persuading, it's fine. Each person must speak at least five times (Finalizing their script). The dialogue in their skits must contribute to the conversation, and move it forward.
After this dialogue is complete, they have the opportunity to perform it in front of the class.
Time to watch the persuasive dialogue come to life with the skits! My students are accustomed to presenting their writing and other school work with their classmates, but skits are less common. Everyone eagerly anticipates hearing all the persuading that's to come. After they practice the Skit and feel ready to go, the performance begin!
In order to support active listening that goes beyond observation of the skits, as they watch, they use the Were You Persuaded? persuasive skit page. A short description of each skit is written on the side (Student Example 1) and then they evaluate whether they felt persuaded to agree with the performers opinion (Student Example 2). After each performance in addition to writing on the paper (Student Example 3), they raise their hands if they were persuaded (Fans of Applebees).
I use the worksheet the kids fill out as an informal evaluation and immediate feedback. At the end we go through each and kids put their hands up if they were persuaded by a skit. If the majority of the kids were persuaded, the author knows his/her persuasion techniques are working well. On my own, I look at their double bubble maps and how they compared the menus, and read through their scripts to find evidence of persuasive language.