Midterm grades are due today. I update students on their progress as often as I can. This includes giving them a printout from the grading program I use, Easy Grade Pro. Still, too many students fail to be as proactive as they should be to improve their grade. Once in a while I spend some class time discussing grades in general and giving them a reality check. I spend the first part of today’s period doing this.
The discussion I have with students during this time is honest and urgent. I give them a copy of their record from my grade book and emphasize that we are halfway through the semester and time flies. Students have many specific and general questions about assignments and deadlines. Many take the time to dig up old assignments from their binders or backpacks.
In a previous lesson, I posed two questions about “Hills Like White Elephants” and asked students to select one to answer in writing. The questions are:
Does the American love Jig?
What is Jig going to do?
Students are in the process of editing this response at home, along with a written analysis of a symbol in this story. Both are to be turned in on Monday. Today, I ask students to draft an outline of a response to the other question. This will be the last of three written responses students produce for this story. In this series of written assignments, I am trying to help students take at least one important step forward in their writing development. These written responses have been assigned back to back, which addressed the importance of writing routinely as per the Common Core.
Like with the previous responses, students will engage in discussion and evaluate the quality of their working arguments. Today, they prepare for this discussion, an important step to fulfill Common Core SL.11-12.1a, which will take place in the next lesson. I am modifying the process they are following to discuss each other’s working arguments. Specifically, I am adding structure to the process beginning with the way they outline their argument today. The reason why I am adding structure is because I want to increase their quality of their evaluation by making certain parts of this process more explicit.
I give students this chart titled “My Argument And Feedback" and ask them to use the left side to outline their argument. The right side will be used tomorrow. I also use this chart in which I listed good qualities of a claim, evidence, and interpretation of a text. Today I project the first two columns and review it, as I explain in this video.
Students will be introduced to the last two columns tomorrow because those are meant to help them evaluate their peer’s working argument.
Once I am done explaining these qualities, I let students work to outline their argument. I keep the chart projected on the board. I make sure to walk around and look over their shoulders to see to what extent they are using the guidelines on the projected chart. I interrupt their work once in a while to address trends. For example, several students respond to the question with statements such as, “The American does love Jig.” However, they have not provided reasons. I make this observation and let them know that providing reasons for their answer is necessary for their claim to qualify as a full response.
A good number of students are done by now so I instruct them to spend the last part of class working on their draft of the first two written responses I assigned for “Hills Like White Elephants.” Those who are not finished with the outline I assigned today, can continue working on it.