Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Easy Essays Step 2

Dawn Capes
Bay District Schools

Description

This lesson is the second step in the UnitPlan: Easy Essays in Three Steps. Students participate in mini- lessons which will encourage better essay writing.

Objectives

The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

Materials

-Group and individual brainstorms from Easy Essays 1
-Copy of Florida Writes Scoring Rubric (done in Easy Essays Step One)
-Overhead
-Transparency of Brainstorm with Prompt One information (see Associated File)
-Blank transparencies

Preparations

1. Gather copies or ensure that students have copies of the Florida Writes Adapted rubric, created in Lesson One, Easy Essays Step One.)

2. Create applicable transparencies.

3. Realize that scoring will need to be done on student essays.

5. Obtain a copy of transition words from a meaningful source. Make a copy for each student to keep.

6. Know that the 5 paragraph essay format is only ONE format that students can choose to use if they would like. For the purposes of this unit, it is the one that is stressed.

Procedures

Day Four of the Unit Plan: Easy Essays
Use the brainstorm the students did previously as a class in Easy Essays 1. This was created from the Practice Prompt #1.

1. Tell students that they have already gotten the “skeleton” of their essays completed. They should know this is located in the brainstorm. Now, they are going to add the meat and muscles to their essays by transferring their information in their brainstorms to a five-paragraph essay.

2. Before students begin writing, use the overhead and transparencies to model for them how to transfer information from their FIRST brainstorm, which was done in class, to a paragraph form. If time allows, do the introduction and first paragraph. If time does not allow, at least do the first supporting paragraph.

3. Tell students that they will now be asked to write an essay using their brainstorm from the Practice Prompt 2. As students work, walk around the room and provide formative feedback that is positive and guiding, "Yes, you have tried to start your sentences differently. That's making sure that you have varied sentence structure." Don't go overboard on this as students need time to write the essay.

4. Once students finish their work, inform them that know they will begin the process of making it better! Ask them if they felt more comfortable writing this essay than they did the diagnostic. Ask why this may be. Students may answer that they were more familiar with the prompt, or it could be because they brainstormed!

5. Refresh students' memories on the importance of brainstorming. (It keeps the essay organized, prevents repetitiveness, and allows for a plan to follow.)

6. Now tell students that they will be taking this essay and examining both little pieces and larger pieces that make up the essay. Studying the rubric used to score the essay will help them make connections and see what the essay needs to include to make a good score.

7. Let's get started!

8. Tell students that now they have the skeletons and some muscles on their "skeleton" but now they need to add the skin. Talk to students about first impressions. Have them give ideas where first impressions mean a great deal. Now talk about how first impressions are also important in an essay because they draw the readers in and make them want to read more.

9. Refer to these specific sections of the rubric: organization, mature command of language, creative writing, and various sentence structures. Make sure that students understand that this is what a good introduction will contain.

10. Ask them to share ways essays are normally begun. (“Hi, my name is….” Is very popular.) Talk about why this is not a very good way to begin an essay.

11. Tell students that they are now going to work to improve the first impression in their essays. But before they work on theirs, the class is going to do one as a group first. Use the paragraph written from the brainstorm in Easy Essays #1. (If time did not allow for one to be written, take a moment to write a simple, trite introductory paragraph.)

12. Tell students that they can begin their introductions with a question (very effective for middle schoolers), start with a quotation, or begin with a surprising fact. The teacher may want to sample each one of these on an overhead and allow students to contribute. Students should be reminded that their introductions NEED to include their three reasons which backed up their main idea. Model this for students as well, if it has not already been done.

13. Allow students time to do this twice with their own essays, writing on a separate sheet of paper.

14. Share student examples and while using the rubric, praise the following:
-Interesting statement, fact or question which draws the reader in because it shows mature command of language and sentence variety.
-Introductions that gain readers’ attention because it can be a creative writing strategy.
-Three reasons were provided which helped with the organization and focus.

15. The teacher should formatively assess essays using the Florida Writes Adapted scoring rubric. As the teacher is scoring these essays, keep a running record of any groupwide mistakes or places where more instruction is needed. (In a later lesson, overused or trite vocabulary words will be needed, so as you are scoring student work, note these words for future use. Words may include good, bad, a lot, really, and said.

Note: DO NOT SCORE THE NEW INTRODUCTIONS!!!

Day Five of the unit, Easy Essays
Supporting details and transitions
1. Pass back to students their scored essays and ask if this essays score was better than the diagnostic. Discuss reasons why this could be so. (Possible answers: Better understanding of rubric, better understanding of prompt, easier prompt, and used a planning tool.) Now, say that they will continue to improve the essay. They've already worked on a better introduction; now they will work on supporting details.

2. Pass out the Adapted rubric, and refer to the section, Support. Point out what a large section of the rubric this is. Lead students to understand that this is a very important part of the essay.

3. Using this example (or one of your own), walk students through the process of moving from the brainstorm of Practice Prompt One to supporting details. Use the transparency of Practice Prompt One Example Brainstorm for assistance. (See associated file for example.)

4. Point out how the first supporting paragraph does list three details, which it should, but question students and ask if they are three GOOD details. Of course, they aren't! If we wrote ours directly from our brainstorm, the paragraph would read: We should visit Zoo World so we can study animals. We can study lions. We can study birds. We can study monkeys. Ask students what is wrong with this paragraph. (Aside from support quality being poor, it doesn't have varied sentence structure.)

5. Elicit examples from students as to how this supporting paragraph could be made better using the same information from the brainstorm. Try to get students to add more details including:
*More about each animal. Things they would like to know about the animal.
*Possible creative writing strategies. Could they add descriptions about the animal's appearance?
Purpose of this activity is for students to understand how to have quality of details, specificity, and thoroughness in their supporting details.

6. Allow students time to work on their own supporting details in their essays.

7. Refer students back to the Adapted rubric. Specifically, point out the section, Logical progression of ideas. Ask if they know what the heck that means! If they don't, give a hint that they they do this everyday, sometimes 5-6 times a day. Lead them to understand that they -transition- between classes. They don't just automatically appear in their next class. They have to go to lockers and move to the next class. The same is true when writing an essay. You don't just jump from one paragraph to another. You have to transition or have a logical progression of ideas.

8. Share with students a list of transition words obtained from a meaningful source.

9. Point out the "easies," such as first, second, third, next, and finally.

10. Have students take out their essays and determine if they used transition words at the beginning of each paragraph and throughout their paragraphs, such as at the beginning of each reason. Have them circle where they see this being done. As students work, walk around and give positive feedback to those that used transitions and note those that did not use any at all.

11. Now, allow students to take another colored pen or pencil (or use pen if they used pencil) to insert in transitions where they are appropriate. Model this for students on the board. Again, walk around the room observing students as they work, being sure that students are inserting (or even adding more complex transtions) to their essays. Provide formative feedback as necessary. Be sure to note those students who still seem to be struggling. They may need additional instruction time.

12. Collect student work and formatively assess their supporting details. Check to ensure that students have at least three details in each supporting paragraph and that there are three supporting paragraphs. Also, check their new introductions. Appropriate introductions will be organized, perhaps contain creative writing strategies, and show mature command of language. Also, note their transitions which will show organization.

Keep a log of those students who still need additional help.

Assessments

Formative assessment occurs throughout the lesson procedures. Please note wherever formative feedback or formative assessment occurs.


Check the introductions for a new beginning (s) and three main ideas. The new beginning should be interesting and applicable to the essay.

Also, check essays for transitional devices.

Extensions

1. Students will have previously studied how to brainstorm effectively.

2. Students needing additional help with introductions and conclusions can use the Student Web Lessons, Trailblazing Introductions and Trailblazing Conclusions.

3. 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=2965. Once you select the unit’s 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

Web supplement for Easy Essays Step Two
Florida Writes Rubric

Students needing additional help with introductions may find this Weblesson useful.
Trailblazing Introductions

Students needing additional help with conclusions may find this Weblesson useful.
Trailblazing Conclusions

Attached Files

This file contains the handout referenced in this lesson.     File Extension: pdf

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