Every so often, when I like I may be approaching burnout, I'll factor in some extra silent reading time. I always allow the kids to take ownership over this. Reading is such a treat for them, and they savor extra reading time. I'll often schedule the extra time, and when we reach the end of our normal fifteen or twenty minute span, I'll ask who would like to keep going for ten more minute. The best feeling in the world is seeing every hand in the room shoot up at once. I feel like I've accomplished my goal in these moments, which is to foster the love of reading in my children.
Students should have their introductions completed, as well as their first and second body paragraphs. They have used the language frame lesson to get ideas about formatting and content. Now they are ready to insert their counterclaim paragraphs.
I pass out the Counterclaim Paragraph Outline and place one blank outline under the document camera. I read aloud the outline, most students understand how to fill in the blanks immediately. I explain we'll be working in groups of three to discuss and then write our counterclaim paragraphs. Once students are put in small groups (based on who I think would work productively together), students will aid one another not only to write their counterclaim but to think critically about where a counterclaim paragraph logically belongs in the argument essay. I put these directions on the board and direct kids to spread out around the classroom to work in their small groups. Kids should read their arguments aloud to their small group; the other group members should be actively engaged in listening, so when it comes time to write their counterclaims, group members can support each other.
The small group element of this lesson worked out so well! Some really amazing, high-level conversations popped up around the room, based on some of the topics kids were arguing.
In this high level of discussion, students were being very honest about their thoughts on homework. A student chose to write his topic on "homework does more harm than good," but here, his group members help him to uncover a solid counterclaim.
Here students are finding the counterclaim-Pets Belong in the Classroom
One thing I've noticed about writing these paragraphs, is that students often struggle with the bigger picture. Why do we need to include evidence to support the opposite side? It makes no sense! Aren't we helping the other side to with the argument? When a student uncovers this question in a small group and I overhear, I'll pause the class and repeat the question. We come up with some possible reasons. Maybe it is because by proving and then disproving the other side, our claim is strengthened.
After students have discussed and worked hard in a small group, they are ready to share their counterclaim paragraphs with the class.
I often have kids share snippets of their discussion with the whole group. If I can remember valuable discussion points that were overheard, I will ask if kids can recap.
Here is another high level discussion counterclaims: Rap music does more harm than good.