Whole Class Writer's Workshop

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SWBAT take the evidence gathered for their theme essay on Of Mice and Men and begin transforming it into paragraphs for a rough draft.

Big Idea

The best laid (essay) schemes of students go often well with guidance!

Homework Check: Theme Essay Graphic Organizer

10 minutes

The graphic organizer was started in class during the previous lesson, and my students were required to complete it for homework if they were unable to finish it in class.  The first few minutes of class is spent checking that my students completed their homework.

Guided Essay Drafting: The Introduction

20 minutes

After homework has been checked, I explain to my students that today we will begin drafting their essays.

I distribute a drafting template to each student and place one on the document camera to use to guide my students through the process. I direct their attention to the cues down the left side of the template, which instruct them step by step, even sentence by sentence, how to begin drafting their essay.

We naturally begin with the introduction, as I challenge them to create some kind of hook that connects to the theme they are defending.  I explain that this may take one sentence, but that it may take more than one.  I give them a few minutes to develop their opening lines, and then ask for volunteers to share out loud with the whole group.  This provides an opportunity for feedback, from each other as well as from me, and gives all of my students a chance to hear samples from their peers, which can provide motivation and/or inspiration to students who may struggle.

The next step is to transition into their "TAG" sentence, where they indicate the title, author, and genre of the work upon which their essay will focus.  The template provides them with a sentence-starter cue, and I allow any and all students to use this sentence starter if they so desire.

The final function of the introduction is to indicate the theme that they will be defending throughout their essays.  Their themes should be in a position to be readily transferred from their graphic organizers, as it was a key step in the process of the previous lesson to identify a complete and viable expression of theme.

I point out to my students that if they follow the the steps on the template, a successful introduction can be written in as little as three sentences.  Of course, I add that they should not feel limited by this.  

My students spend another few minutes adding their TAG sentences and their statement of the themes they will be defending, and then I allow volunteers to read their completed introductions out loud to the whole group.

Guided Essay Drafting: Body Paragraph One

25 minutes

Next we transition into their first body paragraph, which means it is time for my students to decide on their organization.  Because I did not require that they consider organization when they completed their graphic organizers, I anticipate that most have not listed their examples in the most effective order.  I remind them of the conversations we had around organization from this lesson, and encourage them to think about what would be the most effective order to discuss their examples.

We then begin by following the steps provided down the left margin for developing a healthy body paragraph. Having taught high school English for many years, one consistent tendency I found in many of my students is either a reluctance or an inability to stay with their ideas long enough to develop a body paragraph to its potential.  I find that providing templates for my students such as this instills a process by which they can learn to build substantial body paragraphs, and tell my students that the more they practice with the steps I provide them on such templates, the better they will get at "hiding" the formula in their paragraphs.

The steps on this template for body paragraph development are as follows:

  1. Introduce the example you are using from the text to support your theme.
  2. Provide the necessary context from the text, so that the example is clear to all readers, even those who may not have read Of Mice and Men.
  3. Include a quote(s) from the text that illustrates how your example supports your theme.
  4. Explain how and why the quote(s) you have included  supports your theme.

For each step of body paragraph development, I am guiding my students and allowing them to share out loud with the whole group.  Through this sharing, I am able to question my students about their peers' paragraph development:  Does the example support the theme?  Has enough context been provided?  Does the chosen quote support how the example is being used to support the theme? Has the quote been thoroughly analyzed?

Independent Essay Drafting: Body Paragraph Two

15 minutes

With the remaining minutes left in class, I instruct my students to begin working on their second body paragraph on their own, while I circulate to assist individual students as necessary.  

Before my students leave for the day, I instruct them to complete their drafts through body paragraph three onto an additional piece of paper, continuing to follow the steps provided on the template.  I tell them to do their best with the conclusion paragraph, in order to complete the rough draft, explaining that I will be providing some direction for their conclusions in an upcoming class session.