Christopher utilizes the MEL-Con writing strategy with his students to support them to include and evaluate evidence in their writing. Students first annotate Christopher's MEL-con model in order to see the necessary elements. Students then use the template to begin their drafts.
Today's direct instruction and modeling focuses on how to take the factual information on the students' outlines, connect it to the main idea of each paragraph, and transition between ideas: in short, actually "writing" the essay. Much of what we are covering in class today is review. I have chosen to spend one day recapping this material to both refresh it for the students and to close any gaps that may exist in their memory. We begin by addressing attention getters/hooks. I ask students--without looking at the handout--what ways can they remember for grabbing the reader's attention. I list whatever examples they come up with, and then direct their attention to the first entry on the Persuasive Paper Step 6: Rough Draft directions. I explain the transition between the attention getter and thesis is up to them, but should explain or elaborate on the idea in the attention getter, and show how it connects to the thesis. I then ask students to read the rest of handout while I provide them with copies of the Persuasive Paper Step 6.4: MEL-Con Sample and a packet that has MEL-Con in an template form students can simple plug their information into and begin writing. (This template is available for classroom use from many websites; I use Wheeling High School's.) While students are reading, I project the MEL-Con Sample onto the board. Once students have had a chance to read the directions, I ask them to look at the MEL-Con Sample, we discuss and review how I organized my information on the sample outline, and I physically demonstrate how to transfer information; copying, pasting, and retyping from my own models as I go. I address each of the "Things to Identify" on the MEL-Con Sample, calling on students to come to the board and mark, circle, or underline each. We end class with a quick recap of writing a conclusion as I provided, and if there is any time remaining, students will be able to use the template to begin working on their draft. By modeling the transition from outline to paragraph, I demonstrate how to create cohesion in the paper and clarify the relationships between their argumentative claim and the evidence students have researched (W.9-10.1c). Modeling allows students to actually see the process in practice, not as an arbitrary checklist or "to do" on directions. In addition, by calling on students to come to the board or help write portions of the paper, I can ensure they are attentive and increase buy-in/student ownership. As far as paper format, MEL-Con also provides a way for students to create cohesion in their writing.
Amy teaches her students to use the RACE method to write a paragraph to cite evidence from the text. Amy first models for her students each part of the RACE protocol using a focus question. Students work together to find evidence within the text to support their answer to the focus question. Students share out their evidence and Amy projects it using the document camera. After whole-class practice, students try the strategy independently.