Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Collaborative Compositions

Vicky Nichols
Bay District Schools

Description

This is the final lesson in an expository writing unit. Students are set loose to develop, draft, and elucidate information for a research topic. Students work collaboratively to write a paper as practice for the final task of writing their own papers.

Objectives

The student knows possible prewriting strategies for different writing tasks.

The student uses a prewriting strategy suitable for the task (for example, brainstorming, using a graphic organizer, listing ideas).

The student uses supporting ideas, details, and facts from a variety of sources to develop and elaborate topic.

The student proofreads writing to correct convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation, using dictionaries, handbooks, and other resources, including teacher or peers, as appropriate.

The student analyzes and revises draft to further develop a piece of writing by adding or deleting details and explanations; clarifying difficult passages; and rearranging words, sentences, and paragraphs to improve meaning.

The student uses conventions of punctuation (including but not limited to commas, colons, semicolon, quotation marks, apostrophes).

The student uses conventions of capitalization (including but not limited to the names of organizations, nationalities, races, languages, religions).

The student uses various parts of speech correctly in written work (including but not limited to subject and verb agreement, common noun and pronoun agreement, possessive forms, the comparative and superlative of adjectives and adverbs).

The student uses a variety of sentence structures including parallel structure, compound and complex sentences.

Materials

{NOTE: Many of the handouts mentioned below are contained in the associated file for this lesson. They are available for downloading and printing. Materials that are not downloadable need to be gathered and prepared by the classroom teacher.}

DAY ONE
Teacher
-Overhead display method such as dry erase board, overhead projector, or chart paper (NOTE: I use an overhead projector)
-Process Rubric midway and final assessment transparencies (see Extensions)
-Group assignments as designated earlier in the unit
-Secure the computer lab, if possible, for word processing
-Expository Writing Rubric transparency and student copies (see Extensions)
-Research Checklist transparency
-Report Checklist transparency
-Model Essay to demonstrate beginning, middle, and ending structure of quality essays
-Parts of a Paper pyramid organizer
Student
-Notes from previous lessons: prewriting, narrowing the topic, conducting research, creating source cards, note cards, and using the source cards to create works cited list
-Process Rubric midway self-assessment completed in prior lesson
-Student copy of Research Checklist completed version
-Student copy of Report Checklist in progress version
-Expository Writing Rubric given out earlier in the unit

DAYS TWO and THREE
Teacher
-Overhead display method and Team Work Tools transparency
Student
-Student copy of Team Work Tools

DAY FOUR
Teacher
-Overhead transparencies of an example and a non-example of quality report writing
Student
-Student copy of Expository Writing Rubric
-Student copy of Group Review & Respond

DAY FIVE
Student
-Student copy of Report Checklist

DAY SIX
Student
-Student copy of Expository Writing Rubric

DAY SEVEN
Teacher
-Overhead display method and Process Rubric final self-assessment transparency
Student
-Student copies of Process Rubric midway and final self-assessments

DAYS EIGHT and BEYOND
Teacher
-Prepare copies of all materials used in the unit for students to use independently (use the Peer Review and Respond instead of the Group version
-Info Expo Post-test and answer key (see extensions)
-Info Expo Post-test student copies (see extensions)

Student
-Student notes from mini-lessons given during the unit and copies of all hand-outs

Preparations

Print and download the associated files for this lesson. Gather and prepare all other items for the lesson as needed. {NOTE: Download of files may take some time to compile. Please give your computer and printer time to download the document.}

DAY ONE
Teacher
-Overhead display method such as dry erase board, overhead projector, or chart paper (NOTE: I use an overhead projector)
-Process Rubric midway and final assessment transparencies
-Group assignments as designated earlier in the unit
-Secure the computer lab, if possible, for word processing
-Expository Writing Rubric- transparency and student copies
-Research Checklist (transparency)
-Report Checklist (transparency)
-Model Essay to demonstrate beginning, middle, and ending structure of quality essays
-Parts of a Paper (pyramid organizer)

Student
-Ask students to bring notes from previous lessons: prewriting, narrowing the topic, conducting research, creating source cards, note cards, and using the source cards to create works cited list
-Ask students to bring Process Rubric midway self-assessment completed in prior lesson, Research Checklist completed version, Report Checklist in progress version, and Expository Writing Rubric given out earlier in the unit

DAYS TWO and THREE
Teacher
-Overhead display method
-Team Work Tools transparency

Student
-Ask students to bring copy of Team Work Tools.

DAY FOUR
Teacher
-Overhead display method
-Example and non-example, in transparency form, of a report*Student*
-Ask students to bring copy of Expository Writing Rubric and Group Review & Respond.

DAY FIVE
Student
-Ask students to bring copy of Report Checklist.

DAY SIX
Student
-Ask students to bring copy of Expository Writing Rubric.

DAY SEVEN
Teacher
-Overhead display method
-Process Rubric final self-assessment transparency*Student*
-Ask students to bring copies of Process Rubric midway and final self-assessments.

DAY EIGHT and BEYOND
Teacher
-Prepare copies of all materials used in the unit for students to use independently
-Info. Expo Post-test and answer key
-Info Expo Post-test student copies
-Peer Review and Respond student copies
-Reserve library time for the upcoming research session
-Secure the computer lab, if possible, for electronic research
-(Optional) Rather than using the library, ask the media specialists to pull and reserve materials for the research topics and bring them to the class on a cart

Student
-Ask students to use notes from mini-lessons and copies of all hand-outs from unit.

Procedures

This is the final lesson in an online unit entitled Info Expo. This sixth lesson follows several sessions of research. In the session before this lesson, student groups physically sort and categorize note cards into an organizational pattern for writing. They are, in effect, using a prewriting strategy prior to writing. The sessions contained in this lesson move the students into the writing process for the research paper. Students use the practice sessions to draft, edit, revise, and publish their papers. The teacher provides the students with feedback after assessing the papers with the Expository Writing Rubric. The students also turn in a final assessment version of the Process Rubric, and the teacher evaluates students' researching skills. Last minute reteaching occurs, and then the students write a paper alone. The teacher summatively assesses growth made by students during the course of the unit by evaluating the individual paper, a final assessment Process Rubric with attachments, and, finally, a post-test.

BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED BY STUDENTS:
WRITING-Students beginning this unit come prepared with a strong background in writing. In my own classroom, this unit follows a unit where students have explored the Creating Writers' six traits or qualities of good writing as specified by Florida State Standards. Students are experienced with the writing process and publishing writing.

COOPERATIVE WORKERS--Students beginning this unit also come prepared with knowledge of cooperative working etiquette. In my own classroom, this unit falls in the later half of the school year, therefore, students are quite used to managing their cooperative working tasks. During the early part of the year, many structured activities occurred to facilitate smooth group work. At this point, students use these skills well, and the teacher simply observes the groups in action. A Team Work Tools instrument is included in this lesson to manage the group work. The Tool emphasizes the cooperative working goals of Florida's Goal 3 Standard,Cooperative Workers,who work with other people with various backgrounds in an effective, productive manner. The teacher can modify this tool or use any preferable tools to guide the group work.

DAY ONE: WRITING AS A PROCESS

In Class:
1) Review the learning from last lesson titled: Information Shuffle--the research process.

2) Orient students to the current step (writing the paper) by questioning them as to what they know already. As mentioned above, students have been writing from the beginning of the year, and they are well prepared for this section of the paper. Most likely, this discussion is brief and to the point.

3) Display the Process Rubric midway and final assessment transparencies. Return student copies. In the last session, students reflected on their growth in the various categories. Some students begin moving from novice to apprentice. In this session, ask students to look at the second page of the rubric. The class is moving into the writing process section of the rubric. Review each of the categories quickly and explain that students are likely at the craftsman level in these categories since the class is experienced in various writing situations.

4) Transition conversation into the display of the Research Checklist on the overhead projector. Students review their status on the checklist. Students conclude that they are able to check the final section, Begin Writing Process, and they finish using this tool. Teacher collects these for support documentation. The Report Checklist however, begins to take a stronger role. Display this transparency, and remind students to follow the steps outlined in the checklist. Explain that students need to focus on the sections for BODY, WORKS CITED, and TITLE PAGE. Answer any questions students may have.

5) Conclude emphasis on the tools that students need to conduct the writing process. Guide students to review the last step they worked through in the last session. They used the physical sorting of the cards to organize the information they gathered into a pattern for writing. More advanced groups were directed to decide which note card would become the lead, the conclusion, etc. With students holding a mental image of their last steps, move into the mini-lesson reviewing the writing process. Review the beginning, middle, and ending structure of quality writing. Place an essay model on the overhead projector and lead students in a discussion of the attributes of a well-developed essay. Point to examples and non-examples in the overhead transparency of the essay. Determine if students are comfortable and able to move on. If so, provide students with the graphic organizer, Parts of a Paper Pyramid. Discuss the correlation between the graphic organizer and the model essay, and send students to their groups. Redistribute cards to the groups and offer feedback as necessary. Work with groups that are falling behind. All students should have organized their note cards according to the beginning, middle, and end model. The advanced groups are ready to begin writing and have designated cards such as lead, conclusion, etc. Ask these expert groups to assist as role models for groups that are struggling. The advanced groups use the cooperative working skills emphasized in the Team Work Tools hand out to lead struggling groups to the result of being ready to write.

6) Also note, that expert groups can assist in reteaching difficult steps in the process. These expert groups can deliver mini-lessons describing the steps they used to complete the process. This is sometimes more effective than a teacher describing appropriate steps. Presenting students can identify nuances of the process and observing groups can identify with the student teachers better than the classroom teacher.

7) When all groups are ready to write, direct students to the overhead transparency for the Expository Writing Rubric. Remind students that this rubric contains the expectations for their final papers. They received a copy of this rubric earlier in the unit. Keep extras on hand for students that have lost or misplaced their copies.

8) Explain directions for the writing process for their paper. Students work as groups just as they did for the research process. Describe all of the steps to the process as listed in procedures for the next sessions. This gives the students an overview of the steps they use to complete the paper.

9) Students return to their groups. Ask groups to designate a scribe for each portion of the report. For example, scribe number 1 writes the introduction. Scribe number 2 writes the first paragraph of the body and so on. The whole group writes the conclusion.

10) Remember that this method works best for groups of four. Assign smaller and larger groups accordingly. For example, a group of three might work together to write the introduction AND conclusion. Perhaps a group of six might have four paragraphs in the body of their paper instead of three AND individual scribes would write the introductions and conclusions rather than the group writing the conclusion together.

11) In the four-member group, scribe one writes the introduction, scribes two, three, and four write the body of the paper, and one of the group members volunteers to scribe the information for the whole group in order to write the conclusion together. This is to promote a dialogue between all group members to summarize points laid out in the other parts of the paper. All students discuss the major points and come to a consensus to write the conclusion. The intention is for all students to come away with the same knowledge of the topic although individuals research different points.

12) If time remains let groups begin writing the paper. Otherwise, conclude the session with a quick review.

DAYS TWO and THREE: PRESCRIPTION FOR THE SCRIBES

In Class:
1) Review the scribing process, and ask students to return to their groups.

2) Ask students to begin the scribing process for the introduction of the paper. Remind them that this scribing process is NOT just writing. It requires a great deal of dialogue from the members of the group to decide upon important points for the paper. Direct students to skip every other line when scribing the report. This allows room for editing, proofreader's marks, and revision ideas.

3) As each group member sits down to scribe their allotted section of the paper, scribes work to focus the dialogue of the group. The other group members discuss and come to consensus on what the scribe writes in each sentence. Group members come to a precise statement for each sentence, and dictate it to the scribe for that section of the paper. Ask students to reflect on any notes, graphic organizers, and note cards to generate discussion.

4) Display the Team Work Tools transparency and draw students' attention to the section regarding INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS. Explain that all members of the group need to contribute to the writing portion of the report.

5) During the scribing process for the introduction of the paper, provide desk-side conferencing with each of the collaborative groups to respond to the group's focus for the paper.

6) Allow two days writing this first draft. Monitor groups using the Team Work Tools checklist and provide guidance as necessary for groups that lose intensity.

7) At the end of the two days allotted for writing the paper, ask groups that are not finished with the first draft to come in before or after school to finish. Some groups might meet with the teacher for a review of work accomplished and extension of their group deadline.

DAY FOUR: EXAMINING OUR ESSAYS

In Class:
1) Ask students to return to their groups with at least one student copy of the Expository Writing Rubric. Ask students to review the expectations as described in the rubric before they begin working with the papers again. This is to continue reinforcing the qualities desired in the final paper. Using the overhead projector, present a transparency copies of an example and a non-example of quality report writing. Have the class score these as a whole group using the rubric. This presents a model for the students, and emphasizes the expectations and criteria required for the final product.

2) Ask students to gather their drafted sections. Direct groups to staple the pages of the draft together and choose one student to read the paper aloud for the group. This helps the group check for fluency as well as voice. Distribute the Group Review and Respond worksheet. Student groups review the papers according to the big ideas identified. Items include suggestions for improvement as well as compliments for strengths in the paper. These big ideas serve as a stimulus for revisions to the paper. Students respond as a group and one student scribes the responses on the worksheet. Instruct groups that it is very important to make at least three suggestions for improvements to the paper as prompted by the worksheet. This assists the groups in identifying places for revision within the paper. The group works together to record editing comments and revision ideas in the empty spaces of the paper.

3) When groups complete this examination of their essays, collect the Group Review and Respond worksheets and determine which groups might need some assistance in the revision process. Look for suggestions that are vague and prevent the group from making changes to the paper. Conference groups that display such problems during the exchange of group papers in the next step.

4) Ask each group to exchange the draft with another group. These groups read the peer-group papers and use the Expository Writing Rubric to give the group a 1-4 score in each of the categories of the rubric. Ask students to use the scoring sheet to approximate a score for the group's paper. Both groups meet and exchange verbal responses. Conference groups with problems on their Group Review and Respond worksheet.

5) Student groups review the rubric score provided by the other group and the issues raised by their own Group Review and Respond worksheet. Students decide upon a plan of action and prepare to write the second draft during tomorrow's session.

DAY FIVE: A DRAFT A DAY KEEPS THE TEACHER AWAY

In Class:
1) Ask students to return to groups and begin writing their second drafts.

2) Take this opportunity to meet with groups one last time to address any problems. Review scores provided from other groups and Group Review and Respond worksheets. Students use the same scribing process as outlined above to write this second draft.

3) After completing the second draft, ask students to review their Report Checklists. Direct student attention to the categories for TITLE PAGE, BODY, and WORKS CITED. Students need to construct these parts of the paper after the second draft is completed. Again, emphasize individual contributions according to the Team Work Tools checklist. Review student progress and conference with groups as needed. Advise groups that the published copy is due by the end of tomorrow's session. {Note: teacher can reserve the computer lab for this publishing phase. If students are familiar with publishing in the lab, the teacher facilitates the publishing process. Each student can create a section of the report, and all the files can be inserted/imported into one document. Depending upon the requirements of the teacher, some students may choose to write their papers.

DAY SIX: REPORT RESOLUTION

In Class:

1) Students return to groups and conclude writing the reports. Teacher collects the final products.

Teacher:
1) Review the group papers using the Expository Writing Rubric. Assign scores for the purpose of formative feedback to the students, but do not record a grade. These group papers are practice for the individual assessment that occurs later. Provide written commentary to groups that assist the whole group but also direct individual members in the steps in the process since they soon begin writing the individual reports.

2) It might take a few days to score the group papers. Use the next session to complete and collect the process rubrics. This allows for one more session before returning the papers to the groups.


DAY SEVEN: PROOF OF LEARNING

In Class:

1) Students return to groups and review copies of the Process Rubric midway self-assessment and final self-assessment. Students begin to gather the necessary documentation to complete the rubric requirements.

2) Point student attention to their midway self-assessments. Students completed these before the research and writing steps in the unit. Ask students to review each of the categories in the rubric. Remind students that each category represents a skill they used during the research/writing processes. Ask students to reevaluate and identify their skill levels as novice, apprentice, or craftsman.

3) Ask students to reflect upon the categories they chose as individuals during their first attempt at this rubric. The majority of students can observe growth from their original novice level to apprentice or craftsman levels. Using the final self-assessment, ask students to place a check mark in the learner level where they feel they now belong. Many of the students find they have grown to the craftsman level.

4) Ask students to spend 5-10 minutes reflecting on improvements and growth.

5) Next, display the transparency of the Process Rubric final assessment. The final assessment asks the students to record a checkmark again to identify their skill level, but it also asks for a rationale or proof that the students have reached this level of learning. For instance, using the same category, reads and takes notes from sources, a student must attach proof in the form of documentation such as a copy of his notes. If a student is marked craftsman, the notes need to be written in the student's own words. Take this opportunity to remind students they were to keep all documentation collected during the research process.

6) Ask students to staple each individual's final self-assessment version of the Process Rubric together as a group packet. Then ask students to work as a group to gather the items necessary to provide proof of documentation for the different categories of the rubric. Spend the majority of class time collecting the documents. Work with groups that need help. At the conclusion of the session, collect the Process Rubric final assessments and documents of proof from the students. Assure them they receive it back at the beginning of class tomorrow. Explain how the teacher collects these and each group's papers to make formative assessments about the students as a group. Hopefully, this group attempt will be a strong practice for the students when they begin to incorporate these skills on an individual basis during the final step in the unit. In addition, this assessment tool helps the teacher form judgments about what areas might need further instruction or extension work through homework.

DAY EIGHT: GOING SOLO

In Class:
1) Distribute student papers with attached Expository Writing Rubric and score to provide formative data for the students. Do not record the group score in the grade book. It serves the students by providing a baseline for improvements when they write their own papers. Also, distribute the Process Rubric final self-assessments and group documentation. Provide a score for this assessment also to serve as baseline data for the students' individual process.

2) Allow time for students to discuss their scores with groups. Teacher decides at this point whether to conference with groups or use whole class discussion as the method for reflection.

3) Deliver the assignment for the individual papers. The individual papers,
Process Rubric final self-assessments, and Info Expo Post-test will serve as the summative assessments for the students. These three methods allow the teacher to make final judgements as to the research and expository writing skills of the students.

4) ASSIGNMENT: Assign report for individual students. Students duplicate the entire group process, but they now research and write a paper on their own. Students decide upon a topic, research the topic using all of the tools provided in the unit, and they write the paper. The teacher collects the Process Rubric with necessary documentation, the final paper, and the post-test for summative assessment.

5) Provide student deadline for collection of the paper. Depending upon teacher's plan for the remainder of this process, students have three options. Students definitely use all of the skills they practiced in the group activities; however, they are responsible for them as individuals in this effort. The teacher can provide another week of class time for students to complete the reports. On the other hand, the teacher can provide a deadline with one day of class time for research and one day of class time for peer review. The attached file includes a version of the Group Review and Respond worksheet that differs for the purpose of peer (one person) editing. Finally, if the teacher has confidence in the students' capabilities, the teacher can insist that students complete the entire paper on their own time. Make this decision according to the skill level acquired during the group work and the students' comfort level.

LAST TWO SESSIONS: LOOKING AT OUR LEARNING

In Class:
1) After students turn in the papers, provide one session for students to compile documentation for the Process Rubric.

2) Provide one more session for students to complete the Info Expo Post-test.

3) Score the paper, the process, and the test. When returning the post-tests, ask students to pull out their pre-tests and compare the learning achieved since the unit began.

4) If the majority of the students have achieved mastery, move on to the next unit in the yearlong plan for 8th grade language arts. If some students need further practice, set up a tutoring schedule, alternative assignments, or practice in the form of homework assignments.

Assessments

FORMATIVE:
This is the conclusion of the unit The Info Expo. There are various formative assessments occurring in this collection of sessions. For example, students receive formative feedback from their peer review and group review exercises. The teacher formatively assesses the items that students complete as a group. The teacher collects the Process Rubric with necessary documentation, the final paper, and the post-test for formative assessments. Directions for conducting these formative assessments are included in the LESSON PROCEDURES section for this lesson plan.

SUMMATIVE:
The individual papers, Process Rubric final self-assessments, and Info Expo Post-test will serve as the summative assessments for the students. These three methods allow the teacher to make final judgements as to the research and expository writing skills of the students. After students turn in the papers, provide one session for students to compile documentation for the Process Rubric. Provide one more session for students to complete the Info Expo Post-test.

Score the paper, the process, and the test, using the suggested scoring methods included in the ASSOCIATED FILES of the unit (see Extensions). When returning the post-tests, ask students to pull out their pre-tests and compare the learning achieved since the unit began. If the majority of the students have achieved mastery, move on to the next unit in the year long plan for 8th grade language arts. If some students need further practice, set up a tutoring schedule, alternative assignments, or issue practice in the form of homework assignments.

Extensions

To integrate the subject areas with this lesson, work with a teacher in the science or social studies area and supplement their units by focusing the research of this lesson to their needs.

All needed hand-outs not found in this lesson can be downloaded and printed from the Unit Plan, Info Expo. See the Weblinks section for a direct link.

The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/search/details.asp?item=2964. Once you select the unitís link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

The following Web links are resources for the writing process.
Writing References & Bibliographies

This site contains a site for looking at bibliographies.
The Writing Machine

Included are instructions on how to avoid plagiarism when doing research.
How to Avoid Plagiarism

Shown are examples and instructions on combining sentences to paraphrase.
Paraphrase: Combine Sentences

Included is a guide to writing a research paper.
Ten Steps in Writing a Research Paper

Specific guided steps are available on how to write a research paper.
Research and Writing: Step by Step

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