As winter break approaches and I am fighting illness and exhaustion, I cannot help but begin to wonder what my next steps will be when we come back. We will be moving our students from informational writing to a focus on argument writing, but there are many students still struggling with aspects of simply writing an essay. A focused, supported, reasoned, and coherent piece of writing can be tough for 7th graders. Since I will soon be doing more work with the Digital Library, I decided to look there for some inspiration in writing lessons. I would like to have some targeted lessons to work on the gaps.
If you are not familiar with the Digital Library, see my previous post here.
Here are some lessons I would like to work with:
This is a guided self or peer review form that leads students to analyze a structured CER style paragraph. Whatever acronym you decide to use, the paragraph should have a clear topic sentence or answer (claim), supporting evidence, and reasoning that explains the connection between the evidence and the claim. Sometimes, simply having students identify if the parts are there helps them realize what is missing in their writing.
This lesson has some targeted activities that help students with specific skills. Perhaps, after analyzing their paragraphs, they (or you) realize they have evidence, but it is not clearly cited. This has a lesson to help with that. Or, maybe the students just don’t know how to add that next step to their elaboration so their writing is connected and clearly tied together. This has ideas to help show students how to fix those problems.
Another way to help students fill in gaps in their writing is purposefully structuring group tasks where the students have different writing strengths. The students can then work as a group to share ideas about revising a specific piece of writing and learn from each other. Sometimes, this can be more effective than other targeted lessons because the students are listening to their peer group. It would probably depend on the class ability and dynamic, but this is on my list to experiment with.
Sometimes the real struggle my students are having with cohesive writing is simply that they do not write a good thesis statement. We work with CER quite a bit and they are slowly getting better with structured paragraphs, but the transition from that to an essay is sometimes mind-boggling. This interesting, interactive tool can guide students to a better understanding of thesis statements.
If students are still struggling with claims, this resource guides students through several lessons to make evidence based claims. I don’t know about you, but I find that middle school kids often want to rely on opinion and things like, “because I do,” as reasoning and evidence. I was excited to try some of these lessons when I was reading through this resource. There are many parts to this resource.
Do you have any great resources for targeted writing skills?
In my non-teacher consumed hours I love to spend time with my husband and son, play board games, sew/craft/quilt, and read (I DO teach ELA).I aspire to be more into fitness and outdoors more often, though I find a comfy chair and a good book/movie mightily appealing.