Reflection: Accountability Writing Analyitical Paragraphs: Mood and Characters - Section 3: Quickwrite 2: Analyzing Mood in the Exposition and Rising Action


My honors students don't need much hand holding when it comes to writing a paragraph.  If they don't finish, they'll take it home and finish it themselves. 

That's not the case for the rest of my classes.  Many of those students have learned that if they keep quiet, don't cause any trouble, and look like they're working, then teachers leave them alone.  They don't finish their paragraphs, they don't turn them in, they get zeros, and they fail.  And they're okay with that, because it's easier.  There are no consequences for failing in middle school, at least in Arizona unless parents provide consequences.

Or unless the teacher doesn't allow students to fail.  That's why it takes twice as long for my other three classes to work through units.  I don't allow them to fail.  My co-teacher doesn't allow them to fail.  We don't give them the option.  It's certainly easier in my two co-taught classes than in my one 'regular' English class, but the culture is the same.  Not completing the assignment isn't okay.  You will do the assignment.  You will finish it. 

How do I do this? I do make use of our ETL program at school.  I have fully embraced the positive that it brings to me, the teacher.  If a student does not complete homework, then they are assigned to ETL. They spend the hours of 2:20 to 4:00 at school.  They have time to get that homework done.  (Yes, it's detention.)  There's a teacher assigned to help cover ETL, and when it's my turn, I make kids get work done.  They can also go to tutoring during this time.  Avoiding ETL is enough for many kids.  Not allowing me the joy of sending kids to ETL is enough for many. 

Our weekly intervention period is also helpful for making students finish.  Once a week, we have a 90 minute intervention period.  I'll request students who need extra help and we'll provide that help at that point.

But really?  I try to manage my classtime, the time that I have to impact student learning, to help students finish.  If a student doesn't complete homework, chances are it's because they don't understand.  If they don't understand, they'll do it wrong and I'll have to reteach or they won't do it at all and I'll have to reteach. Yup, that means spending two days writing a paragraph, walking students through all. and checking in every five minutes with them to make sure they've got it.  It means that I am a constant presence in the classroom, flitting around from student to student, checking on their progress.  It means that sometimes I have to nest by a certain student(s), to make sure that they're progressing. 

But if the end goal is independent learners, then at some point, those reluctant writers will leave the nest because of the scaffolds I have in place during classtime.

And now the bird metaphor is over.  Go ahead, say tweet.  That's bird for thank you, you know.

  Supporting Writers
  Accountability: Supporting Writers
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Writing Analyitical Paragraphs: Mood and Characters

Unit 10: Analyzing Literature with Act 1 of Rod Serling’s “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”
Lesson 9 of 10

Objective: Students will be able to write an analytical paragraph by citing evidence and explaining the impact of the author's word choice.

Big Idea: From neighborly chitchat to suspicious sentries. . .one small step at a time.

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