This day marks the end of a unit of study focused on argument reading and writing. ELA class is not the only place that students produce this type of writing. They have also written arguments or persuasive essays in social studies, science and math classes. To determine student progress in this particular type of writing during sixth grade, they are given an extended period of time to move through the entire writing process. They will have two 90-minute blocks to research a topic, determine the pros and cons, draft, revise, edit and submit a final copy of a multi-paragraph essay.
Hopefully, each student will be engaged by one of the two topics that were chosen for this assessment. Background knowledge may help each person decide to write about a topic related to sports or one about pets. I read aloud each prompt and allow the students a few minutes to consider them and make a choice. It is interesting to note that the class is divided half and half between each!
Taking time to read the rubric with the class is extremely important. If you don’t, it is more than likely that they won’t! The video elaborates on this topic.
Along with the rubric and the prompt, allow students to use the supports they are used to. In my case, I include graphic organizers for the introduction and conclusion; the argument map for body paragraphs; and another worksheet with sentence starters and word banks specific to persuasive writing. Without a doubt, students will come to you during the writing time needing clarification about the directions and for help with the writing process. If someone is really stuck and I know that they will not move forward at all without help or will move in a drastically wrong direction, then I do offer aid. However, I take careful note of who I work with and how much support is required. Most of all it is important to convey to a positive attitude and offer encouragement to everyone. Smile when you say things like, There is not one person leaving sixth grade who isn’t a better writer than they were at the start of the school year! There is nothing in this assignment or on this rubric that you have not seen before. Just take a minute and stop and think or go on to something else and come back to where you are having a problem. You can do it. I believe in you. Come see me if you have a question or just need a pat on the back.
An example of finished work that exceeds the standards appears here (sports) and here (pets), one the meets the standard of proficiency appears here (pets) and one below grade level standards appears here (sports).