Jane’s #4 Non-Negotiable: Common Terminology for the Paragraph and Essay Helps Students Learn.
In my years of teaching, I have witnessed the frustration of students who go from one class to another and are required to learn new terminology for the exact same skill. I highly recommend, whether you use Jane Schaffer or not, that you develop a common terminology for writing across-the-curriculum. For those of you who are JSWP aficionados and aficionadas, my recommendation for week two is to present a sentence-by-sentence PowerPoint® presentation like we do in our trainings. In a 50-minute class, I would divide it this way:
Day 1: 15 minutes — Indenting, Topic Sentence, Concrete Detail (Students have a paragraph form. They copy the sentences and take notes about each one – pick it up at the end of the class and check that they are copying correctly and taking notes — put a value on i — if we don’t value it, they won’t — 10 points toward the end of the week formative assessment grade.)
Day 2: 15 minutes — Commentary, Concluding Sentence (Continue with copying and note-taking — 20 points)
Day 3: 15 minutes — Ratio and Chunking (30 points)
Day 4: 15 minutes — The Terms Chart (Have the students highlight each column in the correct color and discuss the sports analogy for play-by-play announcer and color commentator.)
Day 5: 40 minutes — Definitions (20 minutes – Review Activity: Create a carousel around the room; or divide them into groups of four and have them jigsaw Topic Sentence, Concrete Detail, Commentary, Concluding Sentence); 20-minute quiz — 40 points
You notice that I do not do all of it in one day. Writing is about Thinking. Let me say this again: Writing is about Thinking. Students need some time to internalize these terms. Also, we know that varying activities engages students. So, you wouldn’t want 7-16 year olds taking notes for 40 minutes at a time (Day 1, 2, and 3 above).
However, if you’re asking me, “What will I do the rest of the class?” My answer is to go to a nonfiction article, one that is well-written (published, copyrighted) and has content about which the students will be engaged and 1) Day 1 –Color-code in blue the TS and in red the concrete details; Day 2 — Take the same article and color code the CMs and CS’; Day 3 — Present one to three prompts to the students on a novel or drama they are about to undertake and show them how to decode it into ratios and chunking; Day 4 — Divide the students into cooperative learning groups of CDs and CMs. While you use video to show highlights of a recent television presentation of a national baseball or football game, have the CD students listen and write in red the play-by-play announcements. After the video, let the CD quads (four at at a table) discuss their findings and select the top two to share with the class (If you have ClassFlow or something like it, they can send it to the interactive white board — if not, you or a scribe write it on the board or doc camera; likewise, have the CM students listen and write in green the commentary from the announcers. After the video, let the CM quads discuss their findings a and select their top two to present to the class. You, the facilitator, make sure they understand the difference.