Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
The previous part of this unit was working on creating an outline and now students move from outline to rough draft. This is when things start to hit the fan. They start to freak out and get nervous about the content of the paper and their time management. The realize that their 6 page paper is closer than they thought. They are not mentally prepared to write a paper of this length before so this lesson helps them to calm down and relax, well as best as they can.
I pull up the Research Booklet on the Smartboard. This booklet serves as the focus of today's lesson. While the booklet focuses on every aspect of the paper, we will just be looking at Phase Four: The Rough Draft (which begins on page 9). Instead of a Powerpoint or some other sort of system, I have all the information in one booklet, which is available on my web-site. This serves as my direct instruction for the entire project and today we will be reading about the rough draft during today's lesson. This is a great strategy as all the information is readily available in one place and students don't have to worry about multiple handouts, Powerpoints, and the like.
I read the information for this phase to the students. This video explains what this would look like: Phase Four: Rough Draft Explanation.
This booklet breaks down the major aspects of the rough draft, which include:
These aspects I will cover as I read information about each aspect to the class. The booklet really shows students how to write their rough drafts. It gives them tips and suggestions for each of the above aspects.
Throughout this time, I remind students of the requirements of a rough draft. They will need to hand in their rough draft to their adviser, which is listed on page 7 of the booklet. This adviser serves as a check-in for them. They are faculty members who have volunteered their time to help students throughout the process. I will not be collecting the rough drafts, only the final draft.
During this time, it's important to think about the class as a whole. This paper is really supposed to be an independent study. I want students to learn how to work on their own. Some students can handle that and some can not. There are moments, depending on the class, where maybe you need to read everything out loud to make sure they understand it. Other times, depending on the work ethic of the class, it's okay to skim some parts with the expectation that they will read it on their own.
Since there are so many requirements for the rough draft (title page, table of contents, introduction, body, conclusion, works cited, and chronology) and middle-schoolers struggle with organizing their time, I spend the last few minutes giving students time to develop an individual plan of action for this rough draft. I don't always do this since my expectations are that students can do this on their own, but it's helpful to do it now so students feel more comfortable with creating it (and it's a time-filler). There are so many aspects of the rough draft that by creating a plan it makes it more manageable.
I tell students to take out their assignment pads, or their computers if that's where they write their assignments, and create a plan for the next few weeks so they can work on their rough draft. It's important to be mindful of which students are using a pen and paper assignment pad and which are using a calendar on their computer. Some students say they check their laptops but do not always do so. It's not enough for them to put down "work on rough draft". I have students come up with specifics for each night so they can make the due date for the rough draft. They go through their calendar and break down what they will do on each night. This is usually in amount of pages.
Surprisingly, students respond well to this. They are cranky about writing a rough draft to begin with, so I'll take any smiles I can from them.