I start class by addressing the students all at once. They each drew their assigned position at the end of a previous class, so they were expected to think about the argument that best supports that position. I ask the students to come up with some form of plan for the five paragraph essay they are to write about the issue of sports in schools. I explain that they will have about 10 minutes for the planning, and then the remaining 40 minutes to write the essay, with the expectation that any portion not completed in class time is expected to be completed as homework. Some students like to draw a more visual plan, some use a graphic organizer, and still others do a more traditional outline. I am not concerned with the type of planning they select, generally speaking, just that they take the time provided and make it meaningful for themselves.
They should plan the following things:
Thesis statement, topic sentences for each body paragraph, and which quotes to use from their resources will best fit.
The remainder of the class is a very quiet time. I expect very little talking to take place because there is so much to get done. I ask the students to only speak with me when they have questions, problems, and/or concerns. This maintains an environment that is more conducive to the task at hand for all students. This also helps me to recognize who needs my attention and support. I move throughout the room to make myself easily available for the students who need me, which also helps to keep students on task through proximity.
I have certain students already in mind that are most likely to need my help, so I make sure to check in on them during this time.