Tag Archives: essays

Writing Basics – Finally Finished!

Alas, we come to the close of yet another essay! I think all teachers of high school students grow tired of the writing process just in time to get a pile of papers to take home and read over the weekend.
When I was in school, we graded using the Harbrace. This time, I will be getting to use PARCC rubric just as soon as I can find a printer-friendly version. Anyway, so how did the essay end?
When I left off with my last post, we had just blown up an essay only to put it back together in looking at the order of sentences within a paragraph.
Our next step was to complete a peer review process. I have played around with a few different things, and I find students tend to think the essay is “fine” and make few corrections or suggestions. This time, I created a worksheet to guide the process in which the students had to find the key parts of each paragraph, rate them 1-5, and complete the frame of “One thing I really liked about this paragraph was…” and “One suggestion I have is…” I explained that N/A, IDK, and nothing were not options for the task, and I found the students actually did decent on this. The writing was so much better it was amazing!
Another idea to consider for the peer review is a group of 4-5 students. One student focuses on the thesis statement with a specific color ink, one on topic sentences, one on citations, one on whatever other element the student was expected to complete. They then sit in a group and literally pass the paper around with a timer to see that each essay has been reviewed by a group of peers, each with a very specific task.
When we finished the peer review yesterday, I told students it was time for a dose of accountability and reality. See, any teacher who has ever assigned an essay and tried to make parts of it homework knows there are kids who know the next day they cannot move forward without the previous part so they drag it out as long as possible. Not this time. I explained the dreaded BLUE BOOK we all saw in college. I had them raise hands to show me who was not going to have the revised draft completed by the start of class today so I knew how many to purchase. Then, I stuck to me guns. Students without the entire outline and essay were not allowed to get on the computer. Additionally, they had to sit separated to encourage focus and drive.
Then, I made a deal with our amazing librarian so that I could use a conference room attached to the library computer lab and set it up like a break room. Students who finished the final copy were admitted to take a break in the break room with some celebratory cupcakes and beverages. I also created and presented “SWAG” awards to the students to take home and show their parents. They were so excited it was worth all of the work.
In the end, I received all but three essays. Successful end to Writing Basics? I think so.

Files/Resources used during this lesson plan:
1. Expository Writing Pack is available at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-Expository-Writing-Task-Teaching-Bundle-ADAPTABLE-to-ANY-text. This bundle includes adaptable .doc and .ppt files for use in working through an Expository Common Core Writing Task for mood in plot, but you could adapt it to any text you desire.
2. Peer Revision – I will post this as soon as possible. I have a few deadlines at work and several essays to read.
3. SWAG Awards – Students Working to Achieve Greatness. I posted the certificate at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/SWAG-Awards.

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