Take Care of Your Body First: Revising the body paragraphs of an explanatory essay

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SWBAT revise the body paragraphs in their essay in order to improve the organization of an explanatory essay on "The Voice" by observing a model of an outline and by conducting a peer review based on the rubric.

Big Idea

Students work their bodies--of their essays, that is--by revising their body paragraphs and adding additional details to their work.

Do Now

10 minutes

For the "Do Now" today, I want students to re-read the drafts they wrote for homework in the tableau lesson. I am asking them to do this because I want them to get in the habit of reading and re-reading their own texts in order to make effective revisions or try a new approach as outlined in the Common Core CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 .

As an extension of the tableau lesson, students are analyzing the representation of a theme in a poem and a poetry production (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7.) in writing and are now revising those drafts.

As they read, I ask them to focus on topics of their paragraphs. I ask them, "Are there places in your draft in which you think that your paragraphs focus on more than one topic?" For example, I'm writing an essay about the the most popular types of food in America. In my first body paragraph, I write about Mexican food, and I describe all the types of Mexican food, including one of my favorites, Chipotle. All of a sudden, and with no warning...BOOM... I start talking about types of Chinese food. I would need to fix this issue by transitioning to a new paragraph (if the topic makes sense in the essay at all).

For now, I just want students to put the paragraph symbol in the places where they think the BOOM happens in their essays. Later in the lesson, they will get peer feedback on paragraph coherence AND on the content of their paragraphs using the PARCC rubric.

Building Knowledge

10 minutes

During this section I want students to know that I follow a process when I am writing a response to literature so I plan to model for them how I would approach the writing of an outline.  I provide the outline that I would follow in order to make sure that I address all of the elements of the assignment. I'm being sneaky here--but the students don't need to know that. I've developed an essay format outline that will ensure that they have more than a fighting chance at proficiency on this essay.  I will also go through the outline and number the paragraphs so that they see how many paragraphs I have in my essay and how I organized them.

Here's the Sneaky Outline for the Essay flipchart  that I use to guide students through lesson. In order to view the flip chart, you must download the ActivInspire free software to your computer at the Promethean Planet website.

Application: Evidence

30 minutes

Students have now made some decisions about ways to revise or reorganize their body paragraphs, so now it's time to work with a partner to get feedback on those paragraphs.  One paragraph focused on the theme of the essay, and the other one focused on the tone of the essay. Within each paragraph, they were also to incorporate ideas about how the poetry production (tableau) helped to convey the theme and tone of the poem, "A Voice."

Hopefully, during the "Do Now," they will have realized that "the BOOM" happens when they discuss the tableau.  Depending on how they addressed it, it may make sense to separate the details about the tableau into separate paragraphs, but this is completely their decision.  I allow my students to make this decision because I truly want them to own their drafts. (Of course, I provide a little nudging where necessary.) This process helps them to meet the Common Core standard of strengthening their writing through revision CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5

This time, the partner feedback is informal, but we will do a more formal peer review on another day.

Partners will use the PARCC rubric to assess the paragraphs written for homework. I am choosing to give students time to read their peers work in order to give them multiple opportunities to experience the rubric,  to see how (or whether) their peers use convincing evidence to support their thinking. By doing this, it is more likely that they will understand where their own work meets the requirements of the rubric and where it falls short.This is one of the major shifts in the Common Core. In the past they have had to cite evidence but the key word is convincing. It is important that their writing is grounded in EVIDENCE and it convinces the audience...beyond a shadow of a doubt!.






Application: Using Feedback to Revise

25 minutes

Students have been hard at work evaluating their peers essays against a rubric and discussing places where they might need to start new paragraphs. Now they will work on revising their work. During this section of the lesson, I am hovering like a plane seeking clearance for landing. I will be checking in on students that seem to be struggling, and asking them to talk to me about the changes they are making to their drafts. I want to know WHY they are making those changes. The reason I need to know this is because I'm nosy, AND I need to know whether they understand how to select appropriate details/ideas that should go in a particular paragraph because the Common Core requires students to be able to organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2a.

Their goal for these revisions is to move their paragraphs from 1's and 2's on the rubric to 3's and 4's.

Closure: Sharing out

5 minutes

For the closure question today, I want my students to take a step back and see where they need to go next in their essays. Here's the closure question: In which component of the rubric is your essay the strongest? Weakest?  I give them three specific areas of the rubric to focus on when responding:

  • analysis and inferencing
  • convincing evidence
  • showing full comprehension of the text

I am giving them these three topics for three reasons: 1) I don't want to read any underwhelming responses, 2) I don't want to read any underwhelming responses...yep, I know it's there twice, and 3) I really want them to use the rubric to guide their revisions.