Reflection: Connection to Prior Knowledge Write an Essay: My City - Section 1: Mini-lesson


The importance of activating prior knowledge and supporting students in connecting to personal experience to the task of writing about three places in Seattle was obvious to me in this lesson. My mind automatically went to the idea of creating a powerpoint slide show to highlight places in and around the city of Seattle to support the generation of ideas phase of the writing process.

I am not sure if I decided to do this because the topic was more general- city vs neighborhood vs my special place- or if it was a non-conscious decision based on the fact that I had observed that some students were spending too much time generating ideas- either way, I am reminded by this lesson of the power of connecting background knowledge to the task at hand.

In the previous two flash drafts- students who lingered in the generating of ideas phase could have been easily supported through the powerful technique of activating background knowledge.

For instance, in the first draft, students were to write about a special place in their home.  Using a slide show, I could have predicted some of the natural places that students might pick such as their bedroom, their yard, their desk, front porch, etc.  Now, I am thinking of several quick and easy ways to connect prior knowledge to the task.  As I mentioned, the slide show is one way, another is a turn and talk and creation of a list of possible special places kids have in their homes.

Many of us experience a feeling of vulnerability when we write about things that are personal- this is especially true of 4th and 5th graders.  Listing a range of possible places that students can pick from if needed will reduce anxiety associated with revealing oneself through their writing.

Continuing to develop a safe and trusting environment is very important so that unsure or hyper-vigilant students relax and focus on developing their writing skills.

  Connection to Prior Knowledge: Front Loading and Activating Schema
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Write an Essay: My City

Unit 6: Writing to Learn: Boxes and Bullets- The 5 Paragraph Essay
Lesson 3 of 10

Objective: SWBAT use background knowledge to write a 5 paragraph essay on their city

Big Idea: Give students practice with generating ideas, planning, and drafting a 5 paragraph essay about a topic which they are experts.

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