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Resource to Teach Writing at Co-op


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I don't usually jump on this board because my oldest will only be in 8th grade next year, but I've been asked to teach high school level writing at a co-op. While I feel confident in my ability, I would like to have some kind of guideline so I know that I'm covering the steps to help these kids learn to write literary essays, research papers, compare/contrast essays, and persuasive essays. 

 

Is there some kind of teacher guide or book for teachers that would give me a guideline of how to break these papers into easy steps for the students? Even if I'm not using the entire curriculum a good, thorough teacher's guide would be helpful.

 

Any ideas?

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I'm using Power in Your Hands by Sharon Watson next year.  My plan is to have them read and complete the daily lesson part in the book one week, go over the main points and exercises in class the first week.  Then, depending on the assignment they will plan the essay over the second week and then complete the essay the third week (this does vary by the "project" though).  The second week in class we will share our outlines and do some 10 minute writing exercises and maybe work on writing style.  The third week we will share our finished products.

 

I think the book provides great step by step instructions and will be very easy to teach. There are also rubrics and examples of different papers and grades that can help guide you.

 

We are going to be able to complete just over 1/2 the book next year. 

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I'm using Power in Your Hands by Sharon Watson next year. My plan is to have them read and complete the daily lesson part in the book one week, go over the main points and exercises in class the first week. Then, depending on the assignment they will plan the essay over the second week and then complete the essay the third week (this does vary by the "project" though). The second week in class we will share our outlines and do some 10 minute writing exercises and maybe work on writing style. The third week we will share our finished products.

 

I think the book provides great step by step instructions and will be very easy to teach. There are also rubrics and examples of different papers and grades that can help guide you.

 

We are going to be able to complete just over 1/2 the book next year.

I actually had that on my short list to use. Could you use it with just the teacher's guide and adapt the assignments?

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I was going to recommend Power in Your Hands as well. :)

 

Other resources to look in to:

Write Shop I and/or II

- Brave Writer: Help For High School

The Elegant Essay

- Writing Research Papers: The Essential Tools

- The Lively Art of Writing + free downloadable Lively Art of Writing Formatted and Key (generously made/donated by WTMers Still Waters and mjbucks1

Analytical Grammar: Beyond the Book Report -- for gr. 6-8, literary analysis & writing, but if you have weak/remedial high school writers, this could be a fit

 

 

Totally a side note:

I've been teaching Lit. & Comp. to grades 7-12, sometimes just grades 9-12, for the past 5 years now, and I pretty much have had to write my own materials to make it work for ME to teach, and to meet the extremely wide needs of each year's classes of students. By high school, a lot of parents are panicking because their students are delayed in jumping the hurdle about writing, and so parents will leap at the hope that a class taught by someone else can make it "click". So just be prepared that you may get a fairly high number of struggling or even remedial students, and have a plan for how you might adapt assignments, but especially how will you mentor these weaker/slower students. Or, know what resources you will point the parents to for the parents to mentor their students through the assignments, if the class is set up so that you will not be doing the grading/commenting/mentoring. (And still, be prepared for parents coming to you, desperate for help with a struggling writer, even if it's all set up with a parent rubric and parent support resources.)

 

One thing I am discovering is that I see more progress by requiring 6-8 shorter assignments (1-, 3-, 5-paragraphs, so about 1 to 1.5 pages, when in proper format) -- one a week -- for the first part of the semester, and then one longer (4-5 page) paper that takes the 6-8 weeks of second half of the semester. The regular/weekly shorter assignments, quite a few in a row, seem to give the students regular practice to just get into the habit of writing, and to get past the mental hurdle of having to put their thoughts onto paper. And it seems to help the students to focus on one foundational aspect of basic paragraphing each week, which then makes it less overwhelming to do a longer paper later in the semester. And more frequent shorter assignments gives us the opportunity to see a wide variety of different types of writing, and to build skills for the longer paper.

 

Types of writing that are helpful to cover:

- description essay (practice in structuring writing -- describing by near to far, left to right, top to bottom, etc. -- and practice in specific supporting details and a variety of types of supporting details -- for description, that would be sensory details)

- reader response/answering a thinking prompt (giving boundaries/narrow field to work in makes writing more manageable for those who struggle to "think of what to say")

- process "how to" essay (helps them see how important orderly structure is to an essay)

- expository essay (factual/informational findings from research; practice for the longer research paper with citations)

- definition essay (explain/define an intangible idea with specific/tangible supports)

- comparison essay (not just what is similar/different but what "big idea" do you get from having made the comparison -- so, thesis practice)

- cause and effect essay (helps with making connections, providing support, and seeing thesis -- what's the "big idea" or the "so what?" that you get from examining cause and effect)

- analysis essays of different types (character, theme, key quotation)

- persuasive essay (literary analysis is actually a type of persuasive: "here's what I saw in the work and why that is valid"; also argumentative: persuade/debate someone to your point of view)

- personal essay (practice for college/scholarship applications; personal application -- "what I learned from XX"; or personal reflection -- "what I found meaningful in XX and why")

 

I also found it was very helpful for my high school class last year to make one of the assignments about spending 2 weeks on putting together and then polishing a resume, as many of them were right on the cusp of going out and applying for a job, or applying for scholarships/college admissions. :) That's actually great prep for a research paper, because the first week you have them research themselves and what they've done, and the second week they learn about putting it into a format (which is what is needed for ANY paper, but citations esp. need to be put into a specific format).

 

Kudos to you for offering to lead this much-needed class, and BEST of luck in finding what materials best help you offer the class! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Edited by Lori D.
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I actually had that on my short list to use. Could you use it with just the teacher's guide and adapt the assignments?

The teaching is all in the student book. You could use that to structure your own lessons, though, if you wanted. I am using Jump In and Writing Aids that way this year. I do think, though, that the exercises along the way have value--and often build toward the essay. The lessons also provide a reference for the students. So, I do think it would be beneficial for each student to have a copy.
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