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.
Part of the end of the year book project focuses on students creating paragraphs in which they need to show a connection between five different novels (Here is the description of the project: Final Book Project). Each paragraph requires students to explain the common thread between the books, include a passage, and analyze that passage. In order for students to structure these paragraphs, I spend the class reviewing how to write paragraphs. Yes, my students know how to write paragraphs but I want to review the Claim, Proof, Reason idea we used in previous lessons. This is the type of formula students will use in the high school so it gives students time to practice this. Students need constant practice with certain skills and using this CPR structure helps them to structure paragraphs in a way that focus on analysis and not summary.
I begin the lesson by reviewing the Using Direct Quotations Worksheet with the class. We have used this CPR idea before so the wording is nothing new. Instead of spending a large amount of time on information that students have already learned about, I quickly review but reading the worksheet. Students are able to access this worksheet from my web-site. They can use their own technology or the iPads we have.
This handout explains how to create paragraphs for this project. Each paragraph must being with a claim, include the proof, and have a reason. When students are able to break down the paragraphs into this formula they can not only create stronger paragraphs but work on analyzing the information.
The important part that I highlight is the example paragraph that I created. We spend time reading it and taking it apart so students can see an example of a paragraph as a model. Modeling is such an important tool in the language arts classroom. When students can conceptualize writing, they are able to apply it to their own work.
The rest of class time is devoted to students working on these paragraphs. I devote this time for two reasons. The first reason is that it gives me an opportunity to conference with students to see where they are at with this project. I can push them along if needed and I can also redirect students if they are struggling with creating this paragraphs. Since this project occurs at the end of the school year, I do not anticipate any problems with students lacking any major skills. I do anticipate students losing a little motivation. This leads into the second reason why I devote this class time to do this work. Since it is the end of the year, not many students are motivated to do quality work outside of the classroom. I can easily assign this to be done outside of school, but since I wanted quality work, I need to do it in the classroom where students will be more motivated.
I tell students they will have the rest of the class time to work on this project, specifically working on these paragraphs. I give students a specific goal as it helps them to not only break down their project into manageable parts, but also gives them something to focus on. The goal is to try and get at least one paragraph done within this time frame. 23 minutes seems like a lot of time to do this but most of the time is devoted to students finding the passages. It's helpful to make sure students have the book they are working with before they begin this part of the project.
This video explains the conference with each of those students: CPR Final Project Conferences