A Week of BIG Ideas

Below is a week’s worth of sessions that address higher order thinking with strategies that are accessible and practical. They focus on industry standards and use Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and the classical model for argument writing. 

These lessons are a prime example how I mix individuals’ interests with core content, goals, and ideals through gamification and open discussion. The key is in valuing everyone and their voice as a worthwhile contributor.

5 session focus:

Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

Synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Day 1

To Kill A Mockingbird: We’ll tackle three major issues today through free writes that can we can relate to ourselves: Maycomb’s Usual Disease, Dolphus Raymond being an outlier, and Atticus saying “We’ve got all the time in the world.” The three questions we’ll use as prompts are:

  • Close your eyes – imagine your neighborhood, and that everyone has a dog. Over time, it’s become common to not pick up after it on walks. No one really minds because everyone has a dog so theirs does it too, and that means they don’t have to clean up after it. What effect could this have on your neighborhood?
  • Weigh the pros and cons of pretending. Come up with scenarios for each. When would pretending hurt most, and when would it help most? (Can these things happen at the same time?)
  • Do we ever have enough time?

-We’ll free write on each of these topics for 6 minutes, with about a minute break in between each. Then, with our new tables, we’ll have to relate them to our three topics for the day in TKAM. We’ll discuss and take notes on each for 10 minutes. If we finish discussion on the primary example before 10 minutes, we’ll look for and speak to other examples in the novel. Throughout, I’ll cycle through the room and join conversations while checking notes. 50 minutes

Class discussion: Based on our free writes and table talks, we’ll come together as a whole class and discuss our word of the day: juxtapose. We’ll define and get examples for it, and then relate our three prompts and TKAM notes to the concept of juxtaposition. For homework, we’ll have to find ten examples of juxtaposition in the novel. Any additional time will be used for SSR. 30 minutes

Exit ticket: showing me your notes from conversation.

Day 2

Writing: We’ll start class with a five minute free write. Students will use the free write to clear their minds before we approach the classical model to argument writing. 5 minutes

Classical model: We’ll examine the five parts to the classical model to argument writing. After, students will work in pairs at their tables to determine where the five parts to the classical model are in a model. They’ll be able to use this experience and immediately apply it to their own writing when starting their introductions to their papers. 30 minutes

Introductions: Students will work on their introductions at their tables. There will be two aspects to focus on: how the introduction is shaped in the classical model, and how to incorporate our own five traits (argument, counter argument, our opinion/voice, audience, and “funnel”). I’ll conference with one table at a time to answer questions and concerns. 45 minutes

Day 3

Sentence variation: We’ll revisit our sentence variation work we started last week. Students will revise their initial work, seeking to strengthen their ability to vary their sentences and ultimately their thought process. Students will also have an opportunity to review each other’s work, with the goal being to strengthen peer editing abilities. 15 minutes

TKAM: We’ll focus on two major points regarding the courtroom: “Your father’s passin’” on page 283, and what this could imply about Atticus’s role, ability, and future performance. Students will make assertions and write small arguments based on these implications. 25 minutes

-We’ll also closely examine the build of the courthouse and how it’s presented to us as readers. Students will be able to make additional assertions about the state of Maycomb and the likelihood of it ever changing. They’ll write short arguments to clarify their positions. 25 minutes

SSR: Students will have an opportunity to use this time to get a head start on their reading for the night (through chapter 23). 10-15 minutes

Day 4

Paper writing: Students will participate in a team building exercise called Survival Scenario. The goal will be to see how we determine what’s necessary. Later, students will respond to how this can apply to the writing process, with the goal to be to acknowledge each other as resources. 20 minutes

Paper writing: Students will continue approaching and writing their research papers, with their objective to have the first page complete. 45 minutes

Peer review:  Students will take the end of class to review a partner’s work. The goal will be to use our editor’s toolbox to see what suggestions we can make for clarity and improved writing. 15 minutes

Day 5

Paper writing: Students should be approaching the end of their second page in our three page writing piece. 40 minutes

Back-to-back drawing: Students will participate in a paired activity called back-to-back drawing. Each “blind” person has to draw the shape as described by their partner who has the visual. We’ll switch, to make sure everyone gets a chance to try each side of the activity. Afterward, students will have an opportunity to discuss the activity in general, as well as discover the most successful ways we found to communicate the shapes we tried to draw. 15 minutes

Peer review: Based on the thought process behind back-to-back drawing, students will apply their new perspective to a partner’s work through peer editing. 25 minutes

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