Like a Bugatti racing from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds, students have left behind the sleepy pace of winter vacation and are deep in the hyperdrive of final exam prep and end-of-term project wrap-up. Last week, we zoomed through the tricks of how to conquer the new S.A.T. essay format and now we’re ready to build some arguments of our own. You would think that S.A.T. prep would be boring, but the kids were surprisingly enthusiastic about the work – even my sophomore T.A. (a former student who helps me during third period by grading small assignments and running errands) looked up from her chemistry homework and starting taking lecture notes along with my freshmen. A win!

All of the Argument Essay writing lessons mentioned below can be found here.

Okay, here’s the week:

Monday
Open with a five-minute M.U.G. Shot (Mechanics, Usage, Grammar) Monday mini-lecture/bell-ringer. (Last one for this semester!)

Review answers from this weekend’s Common Core test-prep assignment.

Explain the elements of Argument writing (claim, reasons, evidence, counterclaim, and overall essay structure) with a Prezi-based lecture.

In the computer lab, dig into two strong sample student essays on the issue of teens being banned from buying energy drinks (one pro/one con) and complete an Essay Deconstruction assignment.

For HW, any questions not finished in the computer lab will be completed tonight. Also, second quarter Book Talks are due on various deadlines this week, so students need to finish those readings and be prepared to meet with me in class on their assigned day.

Tuesday
Open with a five-minute Lit. Term Tuesday mini-lecture/bell-ringer. (Last one for this semester!)

Review answers from yesterday’s Essay Deconstruction assignment.

Assign students their own Argument Essay and use a lottery to determine topics. I’ll hand out and briefly discuss a list of 42 high-interest essay topics that students will choose from, but I don’t want more than one kid per topic; the lottery determines the order that students get to choose from the list.

Some examples from the list of 42 essay topics:
1. Should media images manipulated with filters or Photoshop be required to carry a label?
2. Should the government prohibit paparazzi from taking pictures of celebrities who don’t want to be photographed?
3. In addition to doing jail time, should professional athletes who break the law (ex: drug use, illegal gambling, domestic abuse, etc.) be banned from their sport?
4. Should the legal driving age be increased to age 18?
5. Should the voting age be lowered to age 16?
6. Should the government prohibit foreign students from attending college here?
7. Should cities provide free internet access?
8. Should the government increase the sales tax on fatty and high-sugar junk foods?
9. Should America stop using the penny?
10. Should America convert to the metric system?

For HW, students should begin researching their topic and be ready for Book Talks.

Wednesday
Open with a ten-minute Words on Wednesday vocabulary mini-lecture/bell-ringer. (Last one for this semester!)

This is the first of two days working on research and writing of the Argument Essay in the computer lab.

Complete Book Talks during class for assigned students. (While the class is busy working on essays, I’ll meet with individuals to take care of Book Talks. I’ll be able to knock out about a third of these conferences today.)

For HW, students should continue working on their essay and be ready for Book Talks.

Thursday
This is the second of two days working on research and writing of the Argument Essay in the computer lab.

Continue Book Talks during class for assigned students. (The next third of my class will report to me today.)

For HW, students should continue working on their essays and be ready for Book Talks. In class tomorrow, students can choose whether to start a fresh S.S.R. book or to continue working on their Argument Essays if they bring their own laptop. (I wasn’t able to get a third day in the computer lab.)

Friday
Quarter Trio final point tally and naming of the winning team.

Student choice of S.S.R. or ongoing essay writing while I complete the last round of Book Talks.

For HW, students will be assigned to complete a Common Core-style test prep assignment, the last one in this series of activities. In the spring semester, we’ll switch from Common Core to S.A.T. prep materials for these occasional weekend assignments.

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. HI, I love your materials. I am wondering if you teach on a block schedule. I was a high school English teacher but am now teaching eighth grade. We have 55-minute classes, and I’m trying to adjust. I love opening class with mug shots, lit terms, free write, etc, but am struggling with managing my time. I would love your advice.

    Thank you! Jennie Jones

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  2. Hey Jennie, thanks so much for reading! I’m also on 55-minute classes (no block around these parts) and every day I’m racing the bell. I tend to over plan, I’ll admit. The schedule here is my plan, but what happens in reality is most of the time I have to trim a little here and there/slide some materials to Friday to make everything work. The S.S.R. time is always my slush/safety net. For example, last week I didn’t have time to get through all of the 10 Logical Fallacies on Wed. and Thurs. as I had planned, so I took about 15 min. from Friday’s S.S.R. reading time to finish up that lecture.

    Pacing is really hard, and it’s something I still haven’t conquered. One class will ask lots of rich, conversation-starting questions while another class will sit like church mice taking notes, so I’m usually a little bit off with each section. Still, S.S.R. Friday is my saving grace, allowing me to get every class to the same spot by the end of the week. Each Monday, I start again with my plan. Some days, it works. Most days, I’m sliding things around a bit to keep a good flow to their work. Oh, and I also hit the ground running with those bell-ringers. Everyone’s seated and I almost always begin the mini-lecture BEFORE the final tardy bell even rings. Every minute counts! Hope this helps. 🙂

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