When thinking aloud leads to a writing lesson – SOLSC Day #9

Every week, you start with a plan.  The week started with the Holocaust Resistance Museum (check – WOW! It was awesome!).  This week, the plan was to read aloud Glory Be and teach the importance of character development from both a reading and writing perspective (check).  The plan also tackled the subtle messages that can be found in poetry.  We read Carl Sandburg, Robert Hayden, and Langston Hughes and discovered the messages that lie in these beautiful poems (check).  We learned about complex sentence structure, word use, and its vs. it’s (check).  Finally, we worked through the drafting stage and revision stage of the mythology essay about Echo and Narcissus (connecting it to natural phenomenon and/or lesson learned) (check).

We were coasting along with these plans until Wednesday afternoon.  At 1:19 PM on Thursday afternoon, just six minutes before the end of the ELA class period, which lasts eighty minutes, a young writer whispered under her breath, “Why is it so difficult to write a closing sentence to an essay?”  This happened following the peer revision session where a student suggested that this young writer needed a powerful closing sentence.  It is always thrilling to hear the results of peer revision, but time was not on my side to teach a mini-lesson on the closing sentence.  It would have to wait until tomorrow (Thursday).

During Thursday’s ELA class, we started with a mini-lesson on the closing sentence.  Prior to class, I created a nice graphic (with a computer image) on the whiteboard of three kids with a thought bubble that stated, “What do I write in a closing sentence?”  Around the image, I showed examples of different types of essays that we write in sixth grade.  The most important part was that each of these essays has a different type of closing sentence, which makes it very difficult to write.  Some examples:

Mythology essay: Connection to the content that we learned during the mythology unit (part of Greek history – they were all Greek myths; natural phenomenon, lessons learned, and the hero’s journey)

Persuasive essay: Ask for action

Narrative essay: Make it memorable (what you want your reader to remember about YOUR story)

On Friday, we went back to all of the novels that we read during the school year and looked at the closing sentences.  Then, we analyzed the closing sentence as it connected to the story’s plot.  Finally, the kids went to work on writing their closing sentences (most of them had it written, so it was revising time).  Here are some examples:

  1. Even though these Greek myths were proven wrong with science, we still admire the Greeks for their explanations.  These myths are still studied and read today to find out more about their culture and beliefs.
  2. This myth is very important because it teaches us two important lessons about the world. We can learn by the mistakes made by Echo and Narcissus.
  3. Even though these Greek myths were proven wrong with science, we still admire the Greeks for their explanations.  These myths are still studied and read today to find out more about their culture and beliefs.

It is a wonderful week when your best mini-lesson of the week was unplanned and just what the students needed (check).

4 thoughts on “When thinking aloud leads to a writing lesson – SOLSC Day #9

  1. I agree with Fran – this is much more sophisticated and useful instruction than my 6th graders get from my teaching team. Just goes to show how important listening to the students’ needs and being a flexible teacher can be. They are lucky to have you!

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