Focus On: Changing a Unit — Part 2

Did I use Pre-Assessment?
I pre-tested twice before the essay unit and, to use the Traffic Light analogy (Green = Ready, Yellow = Somewhat ready, Red = Not Ready), most of the students scored as Red with a few yellows.

Have I tried any structure or strategy that I haven’t tried before? Why? Based on what assessment data?
Today, I tried something completely different — knowing that my students a) know very little about essays (READINESS), b) are very kinesthetic, visual and interpersonal students (LEARNING PROFILE), and, according to a 4 Corners activity, revealed that some of them were in a not great mood, being Friday and close to the end of the day, so they would benefit from a game-type of learning activity (INTERESTS).

So, instead of the usual slide show on how to create a thesis, this time I printed off 2- or 3-word chunks of a thesis on sheets of paper, which I then shuffled and mixed up. I then handed them out to the students and had each of them tape their word or word chunk to their shirt. Just prior to this activity, I had the students perform the activity where they have to put themselves in order of their birthdays along a line on the floor, but without speaking. (We have done this type of activity so they know how it works…) This time, I asked them to try and put themselves in an order that makes sense using the words on their shirts. And to my delight, under the guidance of one student who likes to write, the students were able to put themselves in order into a sentence that made sense!

I followed this activity up by putting up the thesis on the Smart Board and labelling the parts of the thesis — but I held back the term ‘thesis’ for now. I asked them to guess (using Think Pair Share) what the ‘job’ of each of the sections was, which they did.

Only at the very end of this process did I reveal that this ‘structure’ or sentence was called a thesis and that the short definition was ‘an opinion sentence’.

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