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Contact Us Listen to this post as a podcast: For seven years, I was a writing teacher. Yes, I was certified to teach the full spectrum of English language arts—literature, grammar and usage, speech, drama, and so on—but my absolute favorite, the thing I loved doing the most, was teaching students how to write.
That practice will continue for as long as I keep this up. 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 all subjects, including writing.
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.
If you are an experienced English language arts teacher, you probably already have a system for teaching this skill that you like. I would ask students which author they feel did the best job of influencing the reader, and what suggestions they would make to improve the writing.
I would also ask them to notice things like stories, facts and statistics, and other things the authors use to develop their ideas. Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.
Informal Argument, Freestyle Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person. An activity like This or That one of the classroom icebreakers I talked about last year would be perfect here: Then they take turns explaining why they are standing in that position.
This ultimately looks a little bit like a debate, as students from either side tend to defend their position to those on the other side.
Informal Argument, Not so Freestyle Once students have argued without the support of any kind of research or text, I would set up a second debate; this time with more structure and more time to research ahead of time. 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.
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.
Introduction of the Performance Assessment Next I would show students their major assignment, the performance assessment that they will work on for the next few weeks.
What does this look like? Anytime I give students a major writing assignment, I let them see these documents very early on.
At this time, I also show them a model of a piece of writing that meets the requirements of the assignment. Unlike the mentor texts we read on day 1, this sample would be something teacher-created or an excellent student model from a previous year to fit the parameters of the assignment.
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. This has been my number one strategy for teaching students how to become better writers. Using a document camera or overhead projector, I start from scratch, thinking out loud and scribbling down my thoughts as they come.
When students see how messy the process can be, it becomes less intimidating for them. They begin to understand how to take the thoughts that are stirring around in your head and turn them into something that makes sense in writing.
I would rather spend more time getting it right at the pre-writing stage than have a student go off willy-nilly, draft a full essay, then realize they need to start over. Meanwhile, students who have their plans in order will be allowed to move on to the next step.
During this time, I would move around the room, helping students solve problems and offering feedback on whatever part of the piece they are working on. I would encourage students to share their work with peers and give feedback at all stages of the writing process.
If I wanted to make the unit even more student-centered, I would provide the mini-lessons in written or video format and let students work through them at their own pace, without me teaching them.
To learn more about this approach, read my post on self-paced learning.
As students begin to complete their essays, the mini-lessons would focus more on matters of style and usage. Only then do we start fixing the smaller mistakes.
Final Assessment Finally, the finished essays are handed in for a grade. Use the comments section below to share your techniques or ask questions about the most effective ways to teach argumentative writing.
Want this unit ready-made?This writing lesson plan shows how students can revise their own persuasive essays using a writing rubric and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as a writer This two class period lesson plan is appropriate for a middle or high school English class.
Motivate your students to write a persuasive essay. This lesson plan includes engaging activities that will help students come up with bright ideas on what to write, and how to effectively put all those ideas into words. Guide your . Middle school teachers: read "Anatomy of an Essay: Outlining for Strength," a guest teacher lesson by Philip Clark.
High school teachers: read these step-by-step lesson plans to help you guide your students through poetry writing process. Evidence-Based Argument Lesson plans and teaching resources this resource is appropriate for high school students and older.
use of Transition Words Students explore and understand the use of transition words in context and write their own persuasive essay using transition words. Includes printable handout. This lesson is . Introduce and explain the different types of expository writing to your students with our lesson plan.
View examples, then play a fun game to make sure students understand the concept. High School Persuasive Writing Teaching Persuasive Reading and Writing A Sample Unit of Lessons and Strategies for High School Teachers Jefferson County Public Schools Version Lesson 9 Characteristics of an Effective Persuasive Letter Lesson 10 Strategies for Answering Open Response Questions.