"Flowers for Algernon" Timed Write

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Objective

Students will use their resources to write a standard 5 paragraph essay effectively expressing and defending their position within the 50 minute class period.

Big Idea

Was it All Worth it?

Overview

This lesson follows the reading of and activities related to excerpts from the story "Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes. The students analyzed character development, theme, motivation, and plot progression prior to this. 

Independent Practice

50 minutes

Students were expected to complete the graphic organizer from the previous day prior to coming to class. This graphic organizer helps them to collect and organize evidence from the text that supports the position they selected in response to the assigned prompt: "When everything was said and done, was it worth it for Charlie to have had the procedure or not?" They were not told they would be writing an essay, just that they needed to prepare multiple pieces of evidence to support their position before coming to class.

When students arrive to class, they are told to take out their graphic organizer, timeline, any notes they have taken while reading, and the text itself. They are allowed to use these items in order to write a 5 paragraph essay establishing and supporting the position they selected. I make the essay due by the end of the class period (except for any students who have an accommodation in their 504 plan or IEP). I make this a timed essay due to some struggles students have demonstrated when doing district assessments aligned with the process and style of the PARCC assessments. The process of reading a text (or multiple texts), evaluating it (them), writing a response to a prompt, and self-editing before submitting it has been a cause of consternation. In order to help alleviate students' anxiety, I feel it is important to give them more practice with writing in such a setting. In recent years, with the state assessment that is being replaced by PARCC, students could take an entire day with a very brief writing piece to edit and prepare, with limited to no reading required at all prior to the writing process. 

For grading, I use the most recent draft of the PARCC Rubric. I believe that the more exposure to that rubric the students have, the more capable they are of "owning it" when they are writing.