Writing Basics

After completing the prompt analysis and gathering a diagnostic writing sample, we began teaching the writing process. There was a time when we were supposed to focus on 6+1 Traits of Writing, but I have the sneaky suspicion the focus on those elements left much to be taught in consideration of structuring a paragraph. Next, we were to look at WICR with the AVID focus on writing. After seeing what the students had, we decided to break it down to writing basics.

First, we looked at MLA formatting for an outline. Believe it or not, this seemed like the first time the students had seen an outline. I anticipate they would not see the point of an outline because most students hate using them. After looking at outlines, creating an outline on how to create an outline, and using “Bath Time” to create an outline, the students saw how using an outline would help them to focus their writing and not leave any steps out in the process. You see, “Bath Time” is about giving a dog a bath but the writer forgets the key step of actually getting the dog in the bath. While readers can infer this has happened, we talked about how vital that step would be if it were changing the breaks on your car or setting the beat when laying some freestyle.

Next, the students took their writing diagnostic papers and tried to create an outline based on what they did. This was an amazing step because the kids were able to see the missing components for their own writing and identify steps for revising the essay to better address the prompt. I had them complete the missing steps of the outline, but I did not let them make changes to the papers yet. That would come later…

Our focus was support and elaboration, so I had the students create an essay from a series of sentences. I took an essay and cut out the sentences one by one for the body paragraphs. I knew the activity would be tricky because it tested so many objectives rolled into one: writing, organizing ideas, having a solid introduction, topic sentences, and conclusion just to name a few. They were asked to read the sentences to identify the subject of the overall essay. From there, I had them look for the thesis statement, but that evolved into looking for topic sentences because the students used the topic sentences to find the thesis statement. Next, the students used the sentences as a word sort by topic, and then they used transitions and context clues to arrange the sentences. I had a prize for the first group finished, making it game-like in nature.

All in all, I would say the focus on support and elaboration was a success. Our next steps will be to finish edits on the essay, complete a peer review, and type the final essay on Friday. Then, we get to move on to the rest of the communication standards – rhetoric, persuasive devices, and logical fallacies.

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