Monday, February 29, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 7 (Argument)

Revising Essays to Be Sure You Analyze as Well as Cite Text Evidence


When I was your age, there were these times when I said to my mother, "Why do I have to...?", and her answer was, "Because I said so, that's why."  It was as if my mother was saying, "Why? Because I am the grown-up and you are the kid and you have to do as you are told."

Has that ever happened to you?  You ask why and there is no good reason except, "Because I said so."  It is really frustrating, right? 

Here's my point.  When I read over the drafts you're planning to revise today, it seemed to me that sometimes you are doing the same thing that makes you so mad.  It's like you are just plopping stuff from the story into your essay that you think makes your point, but the reader is left unconvinced.  

Teaching Point:

Today I want to teach you that when an essayist makes a claim and includes evidence to support that claim, that alone doesn't convince readers that the claim is justified.  Essayists often revise their essays to make sure they explain why and how the evidence connects with, or supports, the claim.


 Listen to the following draft I wrote about Squeaky.  Keep this question in mind, What am I trying to explain here?

Squeaky's protectiveness of herself also drives her to push people away.  For example, in the scene where she is talking to Mr. Pearson before the race, and he asks (jokingly) if she will let someone else win, Squeaky stares him down like he is an idiot.  She is so angry that he would even suggest that she not win, that she glares at him until he stops talking!

What am I trying to explain?--How the scene with Mr. Pearson shows her pushing people away and that this is an example of her being protective.  

How or why does this scene show Squeaky pushing people away and that she is protective?

--This shows that Squeaky pushes people away because maybe Mr. Pearson was just trying to be nice to the other girls.  And she just is so mean to him like no one else matters but her, which definitely pushes him away.

--(Define the word) Protective means always watching out for danger, so this scene definitely shows Squeaky being protective.  Like, if Squeaky lost the race, and lost it on purpose, her reputation as a star runner would be in danger.  So this scene shows how Squeaky is protecting herself.  

Here is an example of doing the same work I just did, but now I'm going to add onto my explanation by using some of the prompts above.

--I think this scene shows that Squeaky thinks she is protecting herself, but really she is almost building a wall around her.  Not that she wants to be friends with Mr. Pearson, but by being rude, even if you think you are being protective, you are really just making people not like you.  This is significant because even though she thinks her rudeness is protecting her, all she winds up being is rude and alone!

Active Engagement:

Now, you will use the thought prompts to push your thinking when analyzing how a scene from your story supports the rationale for your claim.  

Partner 1:  Find the 1st place in your draft where you supplied evidence.  Go to the end of that part and put a star there.  Read aloud your evidence to your partner.

Partner 2: When your partner is done sharing their piece of evidence, toss them one of the thought prompts.  One you think might work to get your partner analyzing the evidence.  

Partner 1: Now, repeat your evidence, then take whatever thought prompt your partner threw your way, repeat it, and keep talking as long as you can.  

Partner 2:  When your partner starts to slow down, throw another thought prompt at them, one you think will keep your partner analyzing the evidence.  

*Then, switch roles.


As you continue to revise your essays, remember that it's not enough to just plop that evidence right into your piece.  The analysis of evidence, the how and why of it, is what is really going to convince your readers that your thinking is real and true.  And this goes not just for writing, but for life.  The "because I said so" reasoning is frustrating.  Supporting your reason with the why of it is just as important as the reason itself.

At the end of the workshop today, you're going to have some time to share your essays with a few others.  Be sure to work now to make your essay as powerful and convincing as you can.  Refer to any goals that you set for yourself last night.


Giving Feedback Using the Checklist

With your partner, share the essay that you have written so far.  While you are listening to one another, use the argument checklist and mark it with stars to help you listen closely and to remember the compliments you will give at the end.


Tonight, to celebrate your hard work as an essayist, read your piece once again to someone at home.  

Use the checklist to show off what you've done really well.  

Then, use the checklist to track the goals you set and think about how you'll continue to work toward these goals as we move into the next part of the unit.  

Jot your plan in our notebook.

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