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Ideally, this writing would come from real publications and not be fabricated by me in order to embody the form I’m looking for.(Although most experts on writing instruction employ some kind of mentor text study, the person I learned it from best was Katie Wood Ray in her book Study Driven).Since I want the writing to be high quality and the subject matter to be high interest, I might choose pieces like Jessica Lahey’s Students Who Lose Recess Are the Ones Who Need it Most and David Bulley’s School Suspensions Don’t Work.
But over the next year or so, I plan to also share more of what I know about teaching students to write.
Although I know many of the people who visit here are not strictly English language arts teachers, my hope is that these posts will provide tons of value to those who are, and to those who teach subjects, including writing.
I don’t claim to have the definitive answer on how to do this, but the method I share here worked pretty well for me, and it might do the same for you.
If you are an experienced English language arts teacher, you probably already have a system for teaching this skill that you like.
Once students have argued without the support of any kind of research or text, I would set up a second debate; this time with more structure and more time to research ahead of time.
I would pose a different question, supply students with a few articles that would provide ammunition for either side, then give them time to read the articles and find the evidence they need. W.6.2.a Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)CCSS. W.6.5With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. W.6.8Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources. W.6.4Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. W.6.9.a Apply grade 6 Reading standards to literature (e.g., "Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres [e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories] in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics"). Yes, I was certified to teach the full spectrum of English language arts—literature, grammar and usage, speech, drama, and so on—but my absolute favorite, the thing I loved doing the most, was teaching students how to write.Most of the material on this site is directed at all teachers.Participate in conversations about topics and texts being studied, listening carefully to the ideas of others and asking and answering questions in order to gather more information or deepen understanding of the topic. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 6 here.)CCSS. W.6.6Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting. To help them make this connection, I would have them do some informal debate on easy, high-interest topics.An activity like This or That (one of the classroom icebreakers I talked about last year) would be perfect here: I read a statement like “Women have the same opportunities in life as men.” Students who agree with the statement move to one side of the room, and those who disagree move to the other side.Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person.