Reflection: Writing Across the Disciplines Writing Fluid Prose: Sentence to Sentence Transitions Through Theme/Rheme Analsysis - Section 3: Comparing Student and Expert Texts


I covered a lot of ground today, so I have had a lot to reflect on.  I happened to have a history teacher observing the class, because she had asked if I could work with the history teachers on ways to teach students reading skills in the context of history.  We had a snow day the day I was going to work with them in a  professional development session, but I ended up integrating a number of the history texts she gave me into this lesson to provide more breadth for students.  It is always great to have another set of professional eyes observing (in a non-evaluative role!), particularly with complex new material, so it was good that her prep period was during this class and she could come in.  In asking her for feedback later in the day, we had a great conversation about the more long-term benefits of this instruction.  She particularly thought the progression of simple science texts to the more complex arguments was helpful (she was experiencing this content for the first time, too, so had a good perspective), and she saw how the theme/rheme analysis could really help these advanced students in their writing.  We also talked about focusing more consistent instruction in both English and Social Studies in earlier grades on recognizing clauses—she noted that even these advanced students had trouble, at times, recognizing certain verbs and other vocabulary (one student asked what an “applecart” was when we worked with the French revolution piece), so aligning that instruction better, knowing that this is where it will turn out, will be beneficial.

 I also realized, through this discussion, that I need to spend more time with cohesive words and phrases.  At the end of class I had showed her my analysis of a short piece by Thomas Hobbes, noting that a way to teach how to summarize ideas (which is what the document she gave me asked students to do) is to write down the cohesive words and have them explain in their own words what Hobbes said, because Hobbes (and many other pre-nineteenth century writers) uses these words and phrases at the beginning of almost all his clauses.  She brought that up again in our talk, wanting to explore that more.  It got me thinking about how to scaffold that work in earlier grades, and also to talk a bit more about it with the class tomorrow before they start revising.

So, it was really nice to have a colleague observing, and we have certainly have a lot to think about as we learn together how to use concepts from systematic Functional Linguistics to help teach reading and writing across the content areas.

  Feedback from History Colleague
  Writing Across the Disciplines: Feedback from History Colleague
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Writing Fluid Prose: Sentence to Sentence Transitions Through Theme/Rheme Analsysis

Unit 9: Writing Arguments
Lesson 2 of 7

Objective: SWBAT identify how an author builds an argument and creates a flow of ideas through a theme/rheme analysis, and be able to utilize this tool to revise their own writing.

Big Idea: Complex and compelling arguments are built through conscious attention of how ideas flow and are refined from one clause to the next.

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