Let's get some order in here! Writing about the Odyssey using spatial order

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SWBAT use narrative techniques to write an effective spatial order paragraph using spatial descriptions of the challenges Odysseus faces as he heads home to Ithaca

Big Idea

Students get their writing in order...spatial order, that is

Do Now

5 minutes

Today's class is only 40 minutes due to a weather delay, so I will really need to make the most of my instructional time today.

For the "Do Now" portion of this lesson, I will ask my students to review the notes they took on the Order of location notes chart during last class. (I found this in Jim Burke's materials) In fact, I want them to make sure that their notes focus on rich descriptions of the locations of the challenges. I am giving them time to review their notes because as I reviewed their charts last class, I noticed that they did not include enough of the rich descriptions about the location of the challenges. One reason for this may have been because the text did not have a lot of description for at least one of the challenges (the Sirens). I will tell my students that they should add details that they think should be appropriate when the text lacks them. For example, in the text, it merely says that Odysseus would encounter the Sirens on the path to Ithaca. Based on their knowledge of the story, they might include vivid adjectives to describe the path (dark, gloomy, watery, treacherous, etc.)

I am encouraging my students to add details that would be appropriate for traveling at sea (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3.d). They might say "on the dark, mysterious path to Ithaca..." I want my students to really think about how the narrative techniques that they use in these paragraphs will help them make their writing more effective.

Building Knowledge: Modeling Using Descriptive Language

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will ask my students to practice using descriptive narrative techniques (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3.b) with a paragraph on a different topic. I am having them practice with a paragraph about a pantry because I think that this will help them see the importance of their word choices in creating vivid image images. First, I will ask students to tell me what is missing from the paragraph, using the prompt in this video.

In order to prepare them to write about a pantry, I will suggest that their descriptions of this pantry should be such that I could sketch or draw them based on what they write. I'll provide a list of signal words  (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2.c) that can be used in spatially organized paragraph and tell them that these signal words will help create the types of vivid images (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3d) that will be effective for the reader.

Application: Practicing Spatial Order

10 minutes

For this part of the application, I will ask my students to re-write a paragraph about a pantry using spatial order (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3.b and c) with a partner.  I found the paragraph at here. I am having students do this as a partner activity with the hope that they will be more likely to create an effective paragraph about this pantry by playing off of the ideas of one another. Armed with their signal words, my students will rewrite the paragraphs on their desks.

It is important that we practice narrative writing now because our last writing assignment for the year will be a narrative. Having them write the practice paragraph allows me time to review ALL of the paragraphs before they write independently. This wouldn't be possible if I had to read a paragraph from each student, and I want to be able to provide feedback before they write their independent paragraphs about the location of the challenges in Book 12 of the Odyssey.

If I noticed that students did not do well on the practice paragraph, I would be able to provide small group instruction before having them move on to the independent paragraph. This way, I could help ensure that all students are prepared for the writing task.

Application: Writing

10 minutes

During this application part of the lesson, my student will begin the writing of the spatial organization paragraph. The directions for this paragraph can be found on pg. 7 of Jim Burke's Odyssey packet under the chart that they completed. In short, they have to write a paragraph that focuses on spatial descriptions of the challenges that Odysseus faced on his way home to Ithaca. I will be grading their responses using the PARCC rubric that we always use for constructed responses. I use this rubric because it allows me to assess reading and writing skills in one shot.

Because this is a shortened period, my students may need more time next class, but they will be able to get a solid start today. As they are writing, I will encourage them to use the signal words list to make sure that the paragraph primarily focuses on spatial organization and rich description. As I mentioned previously, spatial organization will be an option for my students when they write their narrative essays in a couple of weeks, so I really want them to understand how effective it can be as a narrative writing technique.

We are writing this paragraph in class to assess our narrative writing techniques (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3.b) and to practice a narrative writing option that they may choose to use when they write their narratives in a future lesson. Check out this sample of a student's order of location paragraph. Also, see my reflection on the paragraph in the reflection for this lesson.


5 minutes

To close out the lesson, I will have my students write a short reflection of which challenge (faced by Odysseus) has the most vivid imagery so far. I am having them do this because I want them to recognize effective writing when they see it in their own writing.