As the students take their seats, I tell them to get out their research proposal that they wrote as homework. The proposal is the foundation of their essential question argumentative essay. The feedback they get today will help them determine what they need to do to research and answer the question. It will be the focus of the first part of our lesson. Before we begin peer evaluation, I want to review the requirements of the essay.
I ask the students what is the purpose of the essay. I am looking for them to say it is a argumentative essay that responds to a student-generated essential question.
Next I ask what are the requirements of the essay. I am looking for them to say clear claims and counterclaims that can be supported with evidence.
Finally, where do you get the evidence? The response should include personal experience and research. EQs are based on their personal interests, they can include their personal experiences as one piece of their evidence. I will ask them to list the required sources. The reason I give them a list of required sources is I want them to think beyond what they can google search to see that vast amount of evidence that is available to them (W 9-10. 7). Additionally, I want them to experiment with using expert opinion as well as facts as evidence to support a claim.
As they begin listing the types of required sources, I turn on the smartboard. The first slide of the celebration of learning powerpoint reviews the sources. I will respond to any questions about the essay before we move on to evaluating the proposal.
Next, we move on to their research proposal. The focus of their essay is on crafting strong claims and counterclaims that can be supported with evidence (W 9-10. 1a). This essay synthesizes many of the writing strategies we have worked on this year. They have to incorporate direct and indirect citations into their essay, use reach strategies to support a claim and now also a counterclaim, use MLA format correctly, and address the rhetorical appeals as part of the writing process. The culumation of all these skills should create a strong connection to an audience and anticipate the audience's response to their claim (W 9-10. 1b). The audience should be accessible and uncomplicated; therefore, their peers are their target audience. After all, the essential question is developed from to first project they presented for this class.
The students work in groups of four. The proposal has to contain: the essential question, rationale for the question, claim and potential counterclaims.
First we review the content of the proposal, next the students will pass their proposals to clockwise until everyone in the group has had a chance to read it and provide feedback. The goal is for the students to evaluate the strength of their claim and counterclaims and make suggestions on sources they can use in their research (SL 9-10. 1d). They use the guidelines for developing claim and counterclaim on their sheets to evaluate their peers.
Once each student has their own proposal, s/he will read the comments and discuss any feedback and/or suggestions with their group. This proposal and the feedback on the proposal helps with the planning and development of the essay (W 9-10. 5).
Now we turn to the flyer. The flyer has their essential question and a visual representation of the question. I tell the students to take out a notebook paper and fold it into four quadrants. In the top quadrant, students write suggestions, to the right questions, the bottom left positive feedback, and the top left confusion. They will use the quadrant sheet to evaluate both the proposal and the flyer, which should be a visual representation of the proposal. Now they have a written and a visual proposal to convey their EQ and their claim. I remind them that feedback needs to be meaningful. It is not enough to say, "good job." Students have to say on what or why. I give the example, "Good job on writing a strong claim."
Students put their flyer next to the notebook paper. Next they circulate the room writing comments on the quadrant sheet. Once again, the goal is to strengthen their claim/counterclaims through feedback and begin to make the connection to their audience (W 9-10. 5).
After about 20 minutes, I ask them to return to their original seats and review the information on their notebook paper. Next, I have them turn in their proposal, flyer, and the graphic organizers on writing claims and counterclaims.
Now, I will read them and also give them feedback and suggestions for research.
The EQ essay is an opportunity for students to synthesize the writing and research skills we have covered this year. Now we transition from the essay to the presentation. I pass out the celebration of learning guide which provides an overview of the presentation, a few graphic organizers, and guiding questions to help students develop their projects. The goal for students to apply their skills in researching and organizing a presentation to synthesize their academic and personal growth for this school year in manner that will connect with an audience (SL 9-10.4). Students will combine their discoveries from their EQ project with their celebration of learning project to create a well-rounded presentation that shows how their overall learning this year will help them reach their long and short term goals.
I go over the basic instructions of the guide and I show them some picture of presentations past on the celebration of learning powerpoint. I want them to internalize that the project needs to represent them. I tell them repeatedly that some of greatest moments of learning comes from adversity. Honors kids sometimes struggle with admitting failure or near failure. I don't want them to fear sharing their stumbling blocks. Finally, I tell them that they have to invite an adult that has has a positive impact on their life. It cannot another student, it has to be someone who has completed high school.
I give them some time to work on the guide. I circulate the room answering questions. I also have my aids walk around the room. Both of them were in my sophomore class and understand the goals of the project. They can provide concrete examples based on their experience in my class. The students find my aids input helpful.
Finally, I tell them that next Wednesday, we will sign up for presentation dates and complete the invitation for the celebration of learning. They need to check with their parents to see if they are going to miss school on any of the possible dates for presentations. We won't have time for makeups.
The majority of my class and I believe that most things can be explained through a Star Wars analogy. A few weeks ago, we did not have class because all students who take biology had to complete a standardized test. I had to supervise a group of sophomores who were not taking the test (they all have chemistry or some other science class). Some of the students were mine and other were not. I couldn't really teach class, so we watched The Empire Strikes Back. I choose Empire Strikes Back because it is my favorite of all the Star Wars movies--the first appearance of Master Yoda and frozen Han Solo. I often joke with my students and tell them not to stare at me like frozen Han Solo. It is just a fun movie.
The students who were in my class asked it they could do something for extra credit since they were in my room. I told them it wasn't fair for me to give them extra credit when I did not offer it to the rest of the class. The solution--one of my students offered to create a Star Wars extra credit quiz based on the Empire Strikes Back. He said we could give it next week so the students who were not in class would have time to watch it on their own. Of course, I agreed.
To my surprise, the student brought me an Empire Strikes Back quiz with an answer key. A promise is a promise. Today, the end of class is dedicated to a long long ago in a galaxy far far way...