Sunday, March 27, 2016

Writing Workshop 16 (Argument)

Session 16: Identifying Run-Ons and Sentence Fragments

Connection:  Editing is like producing a hit single.  What a producer does is minutely tweak the detailed sounds of a song.  When you watch them work it is all subtle twisting of dials here and there unit the exact right sound is found.  Editing is very much the same writing for an editor.  

One way to fine-tune your writing is to make sure that your sentences have the right rhythm.  There is nothing worse than a sentence that goes on too long or stops too short.  It's like a song with an irregular beat.  It is the job of the editor to fix that.  

When looking for run-ons, look for these "red alarm" words like:


and then




Make a plan...
  • What will you revise/edit today?
  • Use all your resources
  • Use the argument writing checklist
Once you have plan in place, continue to revise your drafts.  

Then, have a random person that has not read your essay read through it and offer feedback.

Continue to revise/edit.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 15 (Argument)

Session 15 Applying What you have Learned in the Past to Today's Revision Work

Have you ever bought a new video game?  Because it is a new game you have a lot to learn - Here are some questions you might have to ask:
*How does the character move?  
*What are the rules of the game? 
*What are the cool things you can do in this game world?

But what you don't need to ask is: 
*How do I use the controller?
*What is a video game?
*How do you use the controller and stare at the screen at the same time?

What don't you need to ask those questions?


Because you've played a ton of times before - you already knew the answers to those questions.

Revising a new kind of essay is similar!

It's a new kind of essay - Compare and Contrast - but you've already been revising other pieces so you already have skills you can use!

Today's workshop will be like playing a new video game, but using what you already know to figure it out.

Today I want to teach you that essayists ask, "What do I already know--and what resources can I use--that will help me do this revision work well?" They hold themselves accountable for drawing on all they've learned before as they revise their drafts.

Use resources to plan for thoughtful revision work:

Look at your essay and notice things you are doing well

Use the Writing Checklist to see where you could push yourself even further...

Did you use transitions?

Where can you write more?

Did you explain and support your general ideas?

Use this checklist:

Active Engagement:
Read over your draft and put stars where you think you can add more, or revise.  Use ALL the resources you have so that you can plan meaningful ways to revise your essay.

Talk with your partner about what your current revision plan is.

Start a list of the things you want to work on now that you've had a chance to talk to your writing partner.

Your writing partner can act as an encourager, sounding board, or sometimes they can assume the role of a critic.

One way to gain constructive feedback is to have your writing partner read and offer suggestions on how you can make it even better!

Your writing partner can bring a fresh perspective to your writing piece so don't forget to ask them to look at your essay too!

Remember - this piece is one you will take all the way to publication!

Continue to revise your essay tonight.  Make sure you have your checklists and charts with you this evening!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 14 (Argument)

Comparing and Contrasting Themes across Texts

Here is what you need:

  1. mentor texts
  2. earlier drafts
  3. checklists
  4. sit with writing partner


Sometimes when I watch movies, right in the middle of it,  I find myself thinking, 'This is not as good as the other movie I just saw.'  I started comparing the movie to the other one I liked more, thinking about how the main characters were similar and different, and thinking about the themes.  I saw that in one movie, the lead character was kind of helpless looking for love, and in the other, she was headstrong and brave.  And it made me think that the theme of both romantic comedies was about love, of course, but that in one it seemed like the theme was 'Love will make everything okay, and the other it was more like 'If you live your life well, love will come to you.  

This unit has changed me and I am analyzing people and comparing things, and thinking more deeply about things.  I want that for you too.  More so than teaching you to be great essay writers-which I totally care about:)

Today I want to teach you that essayists bring all of their skills to compare-and-contrast essays by comparing what is similar and contrasting what is different about the themes in different texts.  


  • We need to choose a text to work with and have  a list of possible themes 
    • Three Little pigs-when one way of dealing with a problem isn't working, you should try a new one, a better approach.
  • Pick a second text to compare it with 
    • Think of a story that has the same theme?

***REMEMBER*** The themes in one text will always relate to lots of other text.  That is why they are called themes.  They are Universal.

  • Raymonds Run-Squeaky is like the third pig. She just keeps doing the same thing.  But she finally stops and tries something different, and things start to change.  
  • Now we have something that these 2 texts have in common, let's think of something to contrast.
  • To do that you could think about who the different characters react to the trouble of the text, or if there is anything different about their situation.  
  • The Three Little Pigs is just teaching you that some people are just better than others at dealing with their problems.  
  • Raymond's Run teaches you that you can change who you are and how you deal with life.  That is a better message I think:)


  1. Choose a text and think about its theme(s)
  2. Consider other texts that might carry that same theme, choose one
  3. Think about how the 2 texts are similar and different 
  4. Move back and forth between universal themes and specific examples from each text.

Active Engagement 

  1. Use your short story that you used for you character and theme essay as your first text.  You should know that stories theme.  
  2. Work with your partner to think of another story that also has that theme-anything you have read.
  3. Start comparing and contrasting


You have been building your comparing and contrasting muscles over two days, and now you have arrived at an important moment in your essay writing lives.  You are ready to do the most challenging work you will do in this whole unit.  Your job over the next three days is to write one last essay.  It will be a compare-and-contrast essay. 

Add to Chart
Bold Bullet Points on page 133


(If time pg 136)
Highlight how one student is revising with an eye toward literary language.


Draft your compare and contrast essay.  Tomorrow we will dive into revising your writing using all you have learned, so it will really help if you have a solid first draft written.  You might want to copy "How to write a Compare and contest literary Essay" into your writers notebooks as a reference.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 13 (Argument)

Session 13: Building the Muscles to Compare and Contrast 

Connection:  I can probably bet you compare movies, singers, dancers, or teams all the time.  Or you might even debate which is better than the other.  Take a second right now and talk with the people around you.  What are two things you could compare, or two things that you could debate about?

After a couple of minutes, have students share.

*One thing I noticed is that when you compare something, you usually compare two kinds of similar things, like two singers or two sports teams or tow drinks...

Today we will learn a bit about a compare-and-contrast essay.  It is a kid of essay that can help you develop really deep ideas about texts.

Today I want to teach you that writers can compare and contrast by putting two subjects side by side and asking, "How are they similar?  How are they different?  Then, they write in an organized way.

Listen as I compare soda and juice. 
(refer to p.121)

What I just did was name a random bunch of comparisons.  It's a good start but I think I can do better.
I have to think more logically than that.

There is a method to comparing and contrasting.
If you want to write an essay that says juice and soda are mostly the same, one way to do it is to take a trait name it and then say how that trait is the same for both items- item A and item B.  Then, you take a second trait-name it- and say how that trait is also the same for both items.

So let's try this method...

Soda and juice are similar in many ways.  They are both liquids you can drink them, and they fill whatever container they are out into.  Also, both soda and juice taste similar.  Both liquids are sweet plus they taste refreshing when one is thirsty.  

Active Engagement:  Compare and contrast the following shirts below.  They belong to the same person.

First, let's focus on how they are different.  Here is a sample compare and contrast essay...

The shirts pictured above are different in many ways.  They are very different in shape.  One is long with long sleeves, while the other is much shorter in length, has short sleeves and a crew neck.  The texture of the shirts is also very different.  One is stiff material and the other has soft material.  Lastly, the shirts serve a different purpose.  One shirt looks more professional, like something you would wear to work.  The other is a T-shirt, something you would wear around the house or to the grocery store. 

Now, focus on the similarities.

But, these shirts are also similar in some ways.  They are the same color.  Both shirts are blue.  They are slow the same size, a small.  And they both have the same owner.  

*One way to write a compare-and-contrast essay is to discuss both similarities and differences-one at a time.  The writer chooses a trait and looks at it across two items, the chooses another trait and looks at that across the two items.

Today you are going to rotate through centers.  Though you won't be writing about literature just yet, you'll have a chance to use your powers of observation for comparing and contrasting, as well as your writing skills.  I've set up pictures of different objects around the room for you to compare and contrast in your writer's notebook.  I'm going to leave our model paragraph up here for you to use today as well, so you can remember how we write about our observations in organized ways.  

Let's look at the following chart of the tips for comparing and contrasting that you hopefully used today.

Homework:  Tonight, find two things in your own life that you would like to compare and contrast and write about them.  You might compare your books or clothes or other items in your house.  You might even compare people or places in your life.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 12 (Argument)

Editing Inquiry Centers

The importance of editing...


The care writers put into the conventions of writing shows how seriously they take both the piece they worked on and the reader who will read the piece.

Today you are going to focus on doing some editing work in your essays.  Go from center to center with your pen in hand~ use the mentor text and the rules list to study and understand the highlighted convention.


2. USAGE: PAST/PRESENCE TENSE - editing for consistency



5. PUNCTUATION (Capitals, commas, end punctuation, paragraph structure/breaks)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 11 (Argument)

Quoting Texts

Connection: I bet that right here, right now , you could think of something that someone in your life always says, a quote that that persons kind of famous for.  Maybe it is an adult in your life, or your best friend who always says the craziest things.

Share a "quote" from someone and what is shows about that person.

A friend of mine, her mom would always say, 'You come by it honestly.' whenever she would mess up in a way that her mom did.  It was a sweet way of telling her she was not alone in messing up that way, that she'd been there too.   

Share any you have with your partner.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 10 (Argument)

First Impressions and Closing Remarks


When writing, people get to do something that you never get to do in life.  You get to redo your first impressions.  Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt awkward?  Well, sometimes when writing on a new topic, a writer can start off in that same awkward way.  Today, you'll learn ways to go back into a draft and fix up the introduction so that in the end, the first impressions your writing makes on your reader will be strong.  

Right now what I want to teach you is this: when literary essayists write introductions, they often lead with a universal statement about life and then transition to the text-based claim itself, by narrowing their focus to the particular story they are writing about.  


1.  It is tough to find a way to show that you love someone.  In his short story, "The Gift of the Magi," O'Henry teaches that the greatest gifts are those that require a character to be willing to make a sacrifice. 

2.  Sometimes, from reading stories, we learn how to be better people.  We learn how to sacrifice, how to show our affection, how to be a good person.  These are all admirable qualities.  

3.  While we often think of heroes being extraordinary people who do extraordinary things, I like to find heroes in my everyday life.  People who are kind, who sacrifice for others, who show up for the people they love. These are all admirable qualities, as admirable as a superhero's strength or super speed.  In O'Henry's surprising story, "The Gift of the Magi," we meet two heroes, Jim and Della, who have many admirable qualities.  

Debrief: How to make a good first impression...

  • Sound like you know what your talking about 
  • What is the biggest thing you are trying to say?
  • Define what the trait means
  • Generate a list of possible leads and choose the one that best represents what you want to say

Active Engagement:

Jot a few possible general ideas you could say that your essay addresses.  What is the larger, more universal ideas in your story.  
With your partner, taking the idea you picked, practice at least one way your introduction can go.  Start by talking about the world or life in general.  Your introduction needs to be universal.  
Try writing-in-the-air an introduction.  Try using...
  • "In life, many people..."
  • "Life is..."
  • "Across the world, many people struggle with..."
  • "In my life I always...and in the story..."
  • "(The problem) means..." Define the problem or trait.


Begin to revise your introduction.  Refer to the Revision Strategies chart.


Sometimes when kids write essays, they put so much work into the essay itself that when they get to the end, they run out of steam, and their conclusions are kind of, well, yuck.  But it's essential that an essayist's final thoughts are really powerful-that they leave the reader feeling like, "Wow, that's right!"

Share conclusions about Raymond's Run.


The conclusions you write matter.  So, tonight, reread what you have drafted today and then make a strong final statement to conclude your journey of thought.  Refer to Alternative Ways to Conclude an Essay chart and Raymond's Run conclusions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 9 (Argument)

Drafting Using All that You Know

Yesterday you worked hard to come up with theme-based claims, map out a structure and gather evidence

Today I want to teach you that when essayists sit down to draft, they draw on everything they know about writing essays and they often draft quickly, piecing together all the necessary parts - their ideas and their evidence - into a logical structure.

Draw from all the resources you have!
*Writing Checklist
*Note sheets
*Charts around the room
*Mentor Text from Bend 1
*Structure formats
*Transition words
*Mentor Essay Text (Yuko's Essay)

Use what you worked on in the previous lesson~
*A precise and compelling claim
*A plan for how your essay will go
*An appropriate structure that fits best
*Convincing evidence to support your claim

Active Engagement: 
Write fast and long! 
Push yourselves to write the whole draft of your essay today!

When you are finished with your draft, find someone who is also finished and look over each other's essays.

Comare it to your mentor essays

What went well?
What parts might need more work during the revision process?

Hold your writing up to the checklist.  Think about HOW you are meeting those standards.  Note where in your essay you could improve.

Homework:  Finish drafting your essay

Monday, March 7, 2016

Writing Workshop Session 8 (Argument)

Looking for Themes in the Trouble of a Text

Connection: When Mrs. Everts was in high school she ran track & field.  She stated on junior varsity team-JV- then she moved onto the Varsity team.  The word varsity is just a shortening of the word university, and it means the main team, the one everyone is watching.
Mrs. Everts' Varsity Jacket

Starting today, we are heading into varsity-level essay writing. It would be great if you could all have letter jackets to wear from now on!!

Essayists can write essays on any element of a story (setting of a story, on the structure of a story etc.). The most common way to write a literary essay is to write on a story's theme, on life lessons, and that's what you will be doing over the next bend in this unit.  

You are still thinking about the story "YOU" selected and what is it teaching readers about life. Keep in mind all that you have already been thinking because the themes in a story relate very closely to traits and motivations of characters, and especially of the main character.  

Today I want to teach you that often the life lessons that a character learns are the life lessons that the author hopes that readers will learn.  To figure out what those life lessons might be, it helps to look more closely at the troubles a character faces, and how they get in the way of what a character wants, asking, 'What lessons does the character learn from all this?"

Teaching Going back to Mrs. Everts and Track & Field, for many many races (hurdles) she would get 3rd place, 3rd place, 3rd place.  Her father rarely came to her races.  So each night after the race she would come home and tell him all about it.  This one particular night she got real sad and frustrated about the 3rd place she had got...again.  She cried and cried to her dad.  Once she was calm he told her that even though he wished she could get 1st place all the time, most people have to face hard times--and that those hard times were usually when they learned the best lessons- lessons that help them become themselves.  'No pain, no gain,'

** There are universal motivations, troubles, and life lessons in stories.  

As we all learn from tough times in our lives, characters in stories learn the most through the problems they face.  But readers learn right along with the characters.  Readers also learn stuff that relates not just to the character's troubles but to troubles that readers have as well.  That is true because the problems that characters face in the stories have what people call universality

Remember that characters in stories have motivations that ALL human beings share.  
People want:

  • to feel valued
  • to be understood
  • to fit in
 Motivating Factors
Here is a list of all the factors that motivate human behavior. 
  • Relationships: family; friends; love; hate; betrayal
  • Fear: the unknown; the past repeating itself
  • Obligation: knowing you should do something whether you want to or not; fear of looking bad to others
  • Needs and wants: money; basic needs; greed; dreams
  • Cultural influences: society; expectations
  • Revenge: past wrongs; hurt; anger
  • Past experiences: childhood; frightening situations; defining moments
Taking a moment to think about all the things that make you want to do the things you do, or feel the way you feel, is the first step to defining your characters’ motivations.

People also have universal problems.
  • things get in the way of what they want
For example:

 The Beast in Beauty and the Beast: Depression

The Beast in Beauty and the Beast: Depression
The Beast, like many people, must change his cold hearted ways and break out of the prison he put himself in to find true love and happiness.  

Think of 'Raymond's Run,' and consider the main 

character's motivation and/or problems that get in 

the way of her getting what she wants.  BUT, this 

time, try to do this all in words that have 

universality.  Think about what Squeaky really 

 wants and about her problems.

It takes awhile to learn what she really wants (usually you know that at the start of a story), but by the end of the story, what do you think she really wants??  Tell someone your idea.

She wants to have a friend, to feel connected to people.  

Here is the question: Is that motivation worded in such a way that it applies to lots of people? Is it a universal motivation?

What are her problems?

Problem #1
Squeaky has to care for her brother who has special needs.  
BUT, we need to name her problem in a way that is not specific to this story, but that instead is a problem many people have. 

Squeaky, like lots of people in the world, has a job to do that makes her different from other kids.   

Problem #2

Many people have tempers like Squeaky that keep people away from them.  

Now we need to think of life lessons that characters can learn from their problems.

The Beast
life lessons from beauty and the beast - beauty comes from within
We learned this one along with Beast. True beauty comes from within; it’s about being kind to others and not only thinking about yourself. 

You could simply say 'Having a temper is bad.' but this is just not powerful enough after all the thinking work we have down about this story.

Talk with someone about what the lesson could be.
-about making friends 
-about her temper
-about protectiveness
***One way to do this is to focus on the end of the story and what has changed in Squeaky.

Make Chart: How to Write a Theme-Based Literary Essay from page 81

Active Engagement:
Try this out with the story you chose, think about the lessons the character learned by thinking about the motivations and the problems of the protagonist.

Get with same story partners.
TALK about your characters motivations and problems in universal terms.  Think bigger than just the particular scenario in your book.  Come up with a life lesson the character learns.

On the next clean page in your writers notebook draw a T chart: on left side list motivations/problems character has (Beast-wants to love someone/can't open up) (Squeaky-needs to take care a family member/has a temper).

**Remember to talk about it universally. 

After you have a list of motivations and problems the character has start a list of possible life lessons.

Finish your work by drafting a theme-based claim and begin to outline evidence to support your claim