So last year, I decided to try and make writing a bit easier for my students (and help them actually get some writing time in daily) with Paragraph of the Week. And what do you know?? It worked! The kids' writing became so much clearer and organized, and they actually started to think of writing as an EASY task!
But, as you all know, I teach 5th grade. Writing one, single paragraph, no matter how good it is, is just not enough. The standards (Common Core or otherwise) call for MULTIPLE paragraph essays, so I was stuck in the same situation as before.
I had always done the "I Do, You Do" method of essay writing. I would guide the students through the entire writing process, modeling every step of the way. It would produce nice essays. The problem: cold, prompt writing. They just couldn't do it without me. This really is unacceptable. It is not good enough if they can produce writing WITH me if they can't do it WITHOUT me. I haven't done my job as a teacher.
So I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out a way to teach my kids how to write a good, organized, coherent essay...the same way they do with one paragraph. How could I make Paragraph of the Week extend to multiple paragraphs, no matter the genre? After months and months of thought, I think I have it. Essay of the Month.
It is based on the same principles as POTW. Students write a little bit each day, using graphic organizers to help them along the way. They start with the body, and then move on to the introduction and concluding paragaphs. All the while, they keep the prompt in mind. Students use checklists and rubrics to help them revise and edit until they ultimately end up with a published final draft.
I think by focusing on the STRUCTURE of writing (as all genres basically are the same as far as structure goes...it is the craft of it all that changes them) I will better be able to help my students create good, basic essays. Once they have the structure down, craft will become a focus where we can work on things like voice and style.
|Can you see the organizers they use to make the body paragraphs? So similar to POTW, I know my kids are going to do great with this!!!|
How do you help your students transition from single paragraph writing to multiple paragraph essays?