If you have not already heard then be forewarned, there is a contest on Mount Olympus to determine the most powerful among a set of the gods that reside there! Today, students arrive to class with a graphic organizer completed for a paragraph in which they detail the reasons for choosing between Apollo and Hephaestus in the first of a series of four contests. A sample is available here. In preparation for what comes next in the writing process, we work together to create a chart that details the steps involved:
Students type or write out their own copy of the process and posting an enlarged version in the classroom provides a handy reference tool. Use a post-it to mark the class’s place in the process and move it along as you go. Students can do the same with their personal copies.
To begin, we start with a short lead that describes the contest taking place on Mt. Olympus and that states the issue. The Persuasive Sentence Starters worksheet offers students a few options in case they have trouble creating an issue statement on their own. This resource is particularly helpful for struggling writers who may otherwise end up spending too much time on this one portion of the writing or skipping it entirely. There are not so many options that it becomes overwhelming, just enough to start off this assignment with confidence. The next step is to make a claim that clearly states the writers’ choice of either Apollo or Hephaestus as the more powerful god. To engage the reader and it keep it interesting, this sentence also includes a little background on that god. Throughout the writing process we talk a great deal about the importance of hooking the reader and keeping their attention all the way to the end of the piece.
The detail sentences that follow the introduction include what the writer determines to be the strongest three reasons for choosing between Apollo and Hephaestus. Each reason needs to be supported by a specific example or a strong explanation. When filling out the graphic organizer students were reminded to consider these questions if they got stuck: Why is important? What does it look like? Those and other suggestions are available on this chart from The Comprehensive Persuasive Writing Guide by Barbara Mariconda and Dea Paoletta Auray (2003, Empowering Writers, LLC).
To end the paragraph, students include a closing statement with a definitive word that establishes the strength of their stand on this topic. Some suggestions are included on the Persuasive Sentence Starters handout.
For homework, students revise their paragraphs to be sure they include all the necessary parts of the paragraph and to add improvements to the introduction, details and conclusion. Tomorrow we will review these paragraphs sharing creativity and addressing trouble spots. A couple examples of the work so far are available here and here.