Dear Dr. Louis,
I noticed that you instruct students to write a “throw-away” topic sentence (TS) and return to it later to improve it. What do you think about doing that for a literary analysis body paragraph? I teach 6th-9th grade ELA and am always looking for ways to help students strengthen their topic sentences.
Also, I struggle to impress upon students to “move and improve” their sentences when they complete the shaping sheet. They often just copy the sentences from their W-O-W pages. Any suggestions?
Wichita Falls, Texas
Thank you for your questions. Regarding your first question and the topic sentence (TS) in our literary analysis process, that revision does not occur on the “T-Chart” as it does with the expository and argumentation graphic organizers, but it is an essential step in the process.
For literary analysis, we start that process by having students work through the “Gathering Concrete Details and Commentary” (CDs/CMs) graphic organizer.
- Students create a list of pertinent CDs and discern which CD provides the most important evidence to respond to the prompt’s task.
- Students then list single commentary words (CMs) that correspond to the selected CD and which also focuses on the prompt’s task. They select the “best” CM word to use for their TS and create a complete sentence.
- As students continue to work through the “Webbing-Off-the-Word” (“WOW”) graphic organizer and the “Webbing-Off-the-TS” (WOTS) graphic organizer to generate the concluding sentence (CS), they generate even more CMs or what we also call analysis.
- Once students arrive to the “Shaping Sheet,” the second draft, we teach them to “move and improve” their sentences, selecting unused CMs from the WOW and WOTS charts to improve the TS and other sentences prior to writing their final draft.
Regarding your second question regarding the JSWP “Shaping Sheet,” I’ve found that students do not understand what it means to “revise” so we recommend that teachers continuously model that skill. Here are some recommendations as well as a video link of a lesson with students:
- Take your “throw-away” topic sentence and show them how you add something that has not been used from the WOW charts.
- Give them some rules – for example, as you move your second CM over, make sure there is a transition. As you write your TS, add the place in the story (e.g., At the beginning of the story; Later in the story; In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men).
- For the CD, make sure the quote is embedded or the paraphrase provides the gist.
- Check accuracy before you move the sentence.
Finally, you have to make the “Shaping Sheet” a grade. If you put value on it, then the students will understand that value. “Move and Improve” = 20 points of the Shaping Sheet grade
We are in the process of producing rubrics for each of our graphic organizers. Stay Tuned!
Also, when you have an opportunity to view a lesson on revising and editing with students, click this LINK to watch me guide a class of 6th graders through a 30-minute “Think Aloud.” I demonstrate how to “move and improve” sentences on the “Shaping Sheet.”
Thank you, again, for your questions. I am here to help in any way that I can!
Keep reading and writing!