"Thank you for writing your essays yesterday on your special place in your house. I am giving each of you a folder to keep your boxes and bullets in as well as your drafts. I want you to make a chart on the front of your folder to help you stay organized. Demonstrate how to make a chart.
"Today you will be writing about three places in your neighborhood. Let me put my essay titled After a couple of minutes, I called on students to share what they noticed. I'm anticipating student responses will include" It has 5 paragraphs, you used transition words like first, second, and third, it has an introduction and conclusion. Great! That's right! You all noticed some very important things about my essay. It does start with an introduction paragraph and end with a conclusion paragraph. I did use transition words between paragraphs two, three, and four. Also I have 5 total paragraphs.
Let me now read my essay about my neighborhood. I want you to be listening for my claim statement. Listen to hear the thing I say over and over. I think I say it 5 times. That is the main idea of my essay. It is what I am explaining in my paragraphs."
I was successful because I planned my writing. Making a plan before you write will structure your writing so your message is clear. A plan will ensure you include all the necessary parts of an essay and move the reader from idea to idea. Here is my plan. Main ideas are in the boxes and supporting details are next to the bullets. See how I have a claim statement in the first box? This is where I start. For now I am going to skip my hook. I will come back to this after I plan the rest of my paragraphs. I made a mental picture of my neighborhood- I thought about the places I drive by everyday and picked three places to write about. Then, I listed three places in the first box. This will become my introduction paragraph or lead.
Next, I wrote a main idea sentence for my first place in my neighborhood- Nucor Steel. I wrote this sentence in the box. I started my sentence with a transition word. I wrote the word "First". I chose this word because it is a transition word that helps the reader understand how my essay is organized.
I used a transition word off of the chart of transitions words that is posted in the classroom. When you are writing your essay remember to use transition words at the start of each new paragraph. Transition words tie your paragraphs together. Later on, you will learn how to add transition words within your paragraphs, too but for now let's focus on using simple transitions at the beginning of each paragraph."
Students, it is just about time for you to return to your seats to generate ideas about three places in your neighborhood that you want to write about. Use your boxes and bullets form to plan how your essay will go. Once you are finished with your plan begin writing your essay.
Pass out blank boxes and bullets to the students before they return to their seats.
During independent work, give the students a few minutes to settle in. I do not start conferring until I see that most of the students are engaged in the task.
After 5 minutes or so, I go to a table of students and quietly interrupt their work by saying- let me hear what different places in your neighborhood you are writing about. Have students quietly share with each other- taking turns. This table conference will spur on any writers who might be slow to generate places to write about.
Also, I have found students at neighboring tables also get ideas by listening in, too. Continue in this manner- moving from table to table as a formative assessment.
After about 15 minutes, do a mid-workshop interruption. I might say something like,
"Excuse me students, I want to share with you some of the great writing plans that I am reading. Some student are writing about the library, and the shopping center. Other students are writing about neighborhood restaurants. Here is an example of a completed boxes and bullets plan completed by a classmate. Show a plan on the document camera. These are all great places to write about. Remember to tell more information about each place by adding details next to the bullet points. Ok, Students back to writing" in about 15 minutes we will gather on the rug to share our progress.
One-to-One conference: If you have a student who is slow to get going pull up a chair and begin by complimenting them on something they are doing right then. Then ask them what is going well. Ask, "What are you trying to do? They will probably say, "I'm trying to think of another place to write about." Read their plan and see how far they have gotten. Ask the student questions based on what you know about their hobbies and families. This will help them come up with ideas. it is important that writing does not become a power struggle with the student. I try to figure out a way to support the student to get going without enabling them to rely on teacher help.
Sometimes a student will get stuck- when that happens, I help them after or before school. I call the parents and set up a time for them to stay late or come in early. If the students know you are available to help them- it reduces the power struggle- I cant think of anything to write. If this is what I see I know that I have to help them with generation of ideas phase of the writing process.
Quickly convene students on the rug for a short share out. Sometimes I let students raise their hands to share, but more often I am on the lookout during conferring for something a student has done that I want other students to start doing.
After you have decided who's work you want to share with the class (maybe two examples) ask the students if it is ok if you share their smart thinking and writing with the class. The purpose of the share out is to show students another student's writing plan or their final draft (Student Essay #2). I show a variety of Student Essays and compliment them on how much they got done. Some maybe only finished the first couple of boxes- another student maybe compleltely finished, and a third might have already started their draft.