Writing Conferences: Hitchhiker Outlines

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SWBAT develop and critique organized outlines for comparison essays.

Big Idea

One-on-one is the best way to communicate standards and expectations.

Latin Roots Warm Up

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journals.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

Peer Editing

15 minutes

Since today's main objective was for students to have one-on-one time with me to discuss the outlines that they are developing, I didn't want to spend a lot of time on peer editing.  

So, I collected and redistributed the papers (to ensure that friends didn't get each other's) and I gave them two simple jobs -- to see if their peer had set the outline up correctly AND to see if the body paragraphs, as outlined, passed the "So what?" test.  In other words, if your paragraph is done correctly, yet nothing you say is of any significance, you need to take a step back and think about the purpose of the paper.  

I tell students that writing a paper is like zooming in and out with a camera.  To fine-tune, you need to zoom in and work on the details.  But you also need to pull back and make sure that your paper is accomplishing its purpose.

Note:  When students got to me, I was impressed with most of the peer editing.  They took their jobs seriously.

Writing Conferences

60 minutes

Basically, I wanted a chance to meet, face-to-face, with every student.  So, I called them up, one by one (alphabetically.)  It took forever, and at times, I found myself losing focus.  However, I do think doing this is about a million times more valuable than writing comments..and it actually takes less time.

What I learned:

  • They still need help with structuring paragraphs.  Topic sentences were not a given.
  • Most couldn't talk about their outline without looking at it.  This seems to suggest a lack of connection with the work.
  • If you give students an option to NOT meet with you, many won't.  After I gave one person that option and they took it, I did not offer it again.