This post should be titled "Last Week in Room 213", but you know how time can slip away from us.
I'm getting my tenth grade students ready to write persuasive essays next week, and so I've been priming the pump. They have been reading a variety of non-fiction articles that deal with controversial issues, ones that are easily debatable. They've been responding and discussing and, most importantly, thinking. On Monday, I'll ask them to choose a topic that gets them fired up, and some of the topics we've dealt with this week may have inspired them.
I also chose articles that demonstrated the various ways that writers can support their points. Stats, quotes and facts are all well and good, but even persuasive and expository writing can benefit from the spice of figurative language. We looked at several articles that contained metaphors, similes and analogies that authors used to make their points. In Praise of the Humble Comma, by Pico Iyer is a great text for this, as Iyer makes liberal use of figurate language to extol the virtues of the comma. We also read Running and Reading by Amby Burfoot, and discussed how the writer used an effective analogy to explain why choice in reading is so important. (Running and Reading comes from Penny Kittle's wonderful site--she has tonnes of mentor texts you can use).
My other mission last week was to get them to work on fully developing their ideas. After we discussed the use of analogy and extended similes and metaphors in a persuasive text, I wrote six different topics on the top of pieces of chart paper and set up a carousel activity. Students had to rotate around the room, creating similes, metaphors or analogies for things like middle school, cafeteria food, the hallways at break, etc. When they moved to a new piece of chart paper, they could either create a new comparison, or add details that would develop ones already on the sheet.
Finally, on Friday, we did one of my favourite collaborative activities for idea development. I'm experimenting with making videos and created one to explain my "candy exercise". It's supposed to have sound, but I haven't figured that out yet! Just click play to find out how the exercise works.
Next week we start a process-based approach to writing a persuasive essay. I'll keep you posted!