Reunions Come But Twice A Year However Inspiration & Thinking Lingers On

Inspiration Sparks A Plan:

Teachers’ College offers two Reunion days per year.  This is a time for us like minded educators to come together for a kind of salon only on a colossal scale. This free day of learning, offers access to their current thinking and leaves us all feeling very inspired.  In March, Jill attended the Teachers College Reunion Day and amongst the many take aways, one idea really resonated with us.  It was demonstrated during a writing workshop presented by Mary Ann Ehrenworth focusing on persuasive essays.  Children were being taught to write in a more artful way – not merely following an organizational script first I write the lead, then I write the… Instead, children wrote from a place of engagement, writing  different elements of their essay as they were moved to do so -they were not in a fixed order.  After all elements were written,children made important decisions as they evaluated  how to move the elements around to see which organization was most powerful.

Readers, if you follow our blog, then it’s obvious that this was something Jill just had to try with her third graders!  Our new UoS is  Persuasive Speeches and after much thought, we found a way to test this technique out.  We chose the following elements for the children to include in their speeches and then when all elements are completed, they will try different ways of organizing them, test them out on their peers, and decide on the most powerful one for their speech.  We can’t wait to see the results.

Planning & Implementation:

The thinking is that students will choose from this list of elements to write about just in the same way Ehrenworth described during her presentation.  Here are the elements we will focus on in our minilessons:

  • State bold opinion (thesis)
  • Lead
  • Posing questions for your audience (craft)
  • Reasons for your opinion- We began by having a dialogue about  different issues in the world that really get us thinking and bring out our emotions.  We then brainstormed a list of issues that really matter to us.  Next, we took a trip to the computer lab and each child had time to research the different topics that interested them.  We did it this way to bring in both the narratives the children shared and connected to on the first day and the informational piece they researched in the computer lab.  Finally, they were given the chance to write down their reasons as they started to plan and brainstorm about their topic.
  • Narrative stories to support (elaboration)
  • Information/Facts/statistics to support (elaboration)
  • Word choice- catch phrases, figurative language, strong words, emotions (persuade craft)
  • Endings
  • Visual representation/props (Text Feature to teach & persuade)
  • Organization- last since we are using this new technique

Final Thoughts (for now):Writing toolbox

The goal is for students to see that modes of writing are like tools in their boxes.  Promoting the understanding that an author’s intention is what moves a reader to action.  As writers they need to construct each part as if they  were guiding readers along a path of their own making. Their decisions to use narrative here to make connections, or to use informational here to amaze, and then, very strategically, to follow up with opinion so readers will believe.

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