Before leaving this step, I would have students transfer their thoughts from the discussion they just had into something that looks like the opening paragraph of a written argument: A statement of their point of view, plus three reasons to support that point of view. Next I would show students their major assignment, the performance assessment that they will work on for the next few weeks. It’s generally a written prompt that describes the task, plus the rubric I will use to score their final product.
Anytime I give students a major writing assignment, I let them see these documents very early on.
In my experience, I’ve found that students appreciate having a clear picture of what’s expected of them when beginning a writing assignment.
At this time, I also show them a model of a piece of writing that meets the requirements of the assignment.
To help them make this connection, I would have them do some informal debate on easy, high-interest topics.
An activity like This or That (one of the classroom icebreakers I talked about last year) would be perfect here: I read a statement like “Women have the same opportunities in life as men.” Students who agree with the statement move to one side of the room, and those who disagree move to the other side.But over the next year or so, I plan to also share more of what I know about teaching students to write.Although I know many of the people who visit here are not strictly English language arts teachers, my hope is that these posts will provide tons of value to those who are, and to those who teach subjects, including writing.I look for and put together resources that would appeal to any teacher who teaches any subject.That practice will continue for as long as I keep this up.So let’s begin with argumentative writing, or persuasive writing, as many of us used to call it.This overview will be most helpful to those who are new to teaching writing, or teachers who have not gotten good results with the approach you have taken up to now.Next, we’d have a Philosophical Chairs debate (learn about this in my discussion strategies post), which is very similar to “This or That,” except students use textual evidence to back up their points, and there are a few more rules.Here they are still doing verbal argument, but the experience should make them more likely to appreciate the value of evidence when trying to persuade.I would devote at least one more class period to having students consider their topic for the essay, drafting a thesis statement, and planning the main points of their essay in a graphic organizer.I would also begin writing my own essay on a different topic.