Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Writing for an Authentic Audience (without the internet)

By Kim Miklusak

This week my English 100 students are working on argumentative paragraphs.  They read and annotated an article on Colin Kaepernick from Kelly Gallagher's Article of the Week site, and then they wrote a summary of the article to demonstrate comprehension.

Another teacher on our team, Emily M., pulled a handful of statements from the article to debate.  On a giant sticky note I wrote out four of them and separated the paper into "Agree/Disagree/Qualify."

The statements read:
1.  Not standing for the anthem is disrespectful to our troops.
2.  We should be always be able to protest against our government in peaceful ways.
3.  A celebrity should always be a good role model.
4.  People should stand up for what they believe in no matter if it goes against what others say.

At each table students used small sticky notes to brain storm as many pieces of evidence or arguments as they could for all of the sticky notes.  They walked around the room and stuck them to the paper.  They then walked around to look at all of the responses.  This produced, as you can imagine, some excellent discussions.  Students discussed modern and historical angles, brought in outside information, challenged each other, and so on--all respectfully.

The next step was for students to choose which topic and which stance they wanted to argue.  They used our dry erase tables to brain storm and then to anonymously hand write their paragraph.  The next day I hung the paragraphs up around the room.  Each group had a feedback chart using the elements of a good argumentative paragraph that we had discussed.  My 5th period evaluated my 7th period's paragraphs and awarded up to three points to the best response.  Then my 7th period did the same for 5th.  The last step will be to review the feedback given by the other class and revise.  This is all the final step before students start writing their own argumentative paragraphs on a new topic next week.

Not only did the competitive nature of this assignment have students up, walking around, and engaged, but knowing that their peers would be reviewing it--even anonymously--was enough motivate more of them to do their best!   It was a great experience that I look forward to doing more as the year goes on!

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