Laws of Life Essay Assignment Objectives: Students will be able to…



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Cathy McCandless

C&I 9410 Teaching Writing in Middle and Secondary Classrooms

Professor Willard

April 25, 2006


Laws of Life Essay Assignment

Objectives: Students will be able to…

  1. Create and publish a Laws of Life narrative essay using the writing process. Communication Arts: Knowledge Standard 1. Speaking and writing standard English including grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, Communication Arts: Knowledge Standard 4. Writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes) and Goal 2.1. Plan and make written, oral and visual presentations for a variety of purposes and audiences

  2. Examine a life lesson that Scout learned in To Kill a Mockingbird. Goal 1.5. Comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works

  3. Edit own work and the work of several classmates during the editing process. Goal 2.2. Review and revise communications to improve accuracy and clarity, Goal 2.3. Exchange information, questions and ideas while recognizing the perspectives of others and Communication Arts: Knowledge Standard 6. Participating in formal and informal presentations and discussions of issues and ideas

  4. Analyze effective introductions for essays. Goal 1.8. Organize data, information and ideas into useful forms (including charts, graphs, outlines) for analysis or presentation

  5. Apply effective paragraphing and structure to essays. Goal 4.1. Explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions

  6. Use supporting details that develop the writer’s personal law of life. Goal 4.1. Explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions


Rationale:

The Laws of Life Essay Contest encourages students to think about what principles are most important to them in their lives. I will ask each student to reflect on his/her own character and on how character develops his/her value system. These values will continue to develop for the rest of their high school careers and lives. During this self-reflection, a student will learn about character traits through his/her own writing and by editing others’ essays. Engaging in the full writing process, the student will go through a series of lessons including brainstorming topics, evaluating the lessons Scout learns in To Kill a Mockingbird, writing an essay illustrating his/her own life lesson, and publishing a final draft, which may be entered in a local contest.


State Standards Used: Missouri

Communication Arts: Knowledge Standard 1. Speaking and writing standard English including grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, capitalization)

Communication Arts: Knowledge Standard 4. Writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes)

Communication Arts: Knowledge Standard 6. Participating in formal and informal presentations and discussions of issues and ideas

Goal 1.5. Comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works

Goal 1.8. Organize data, information and ideas into useful forms (including charts, graphs, outlines) for analysis or presentation

Goal 2.1. Plan and make written, oral and visual presentations for a variety of purposes and audiences

Goal 2.2. Review and revise communications to improve accuracy and clarity

Goal 2.3. Exchange information, questions and ideas while recognizing the perspectives of others

Goal 4.1. Explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions


Materials Needed:

1. Laws of Life Essay Release form http://images.stltoday.com/stltoday/images/characterplus/characterplus_permform.pdf

2. Prewriting Questionnaire

http://www.lawsoflife.org/pdf/teachersguidenew/Questionnaire%20Pg20.pdf

3. Journals

4. Laws of life essay example

5. Overhead with examples of Noden’s introductory leads

6. Peer editing for the Laws of Life sheet

7. Scoring Guide for essay

8. Overhead projector

9. Whiteboard with markers

10. To Kill a Mockingbird novel

11. Laws of Life essay assignment sheet


Time Needed:

Six 86-minute periods. Block schedule, alternating days.


Process Involved:

Day 1:

1. Journal prompt: What is a life lesson? Let students free write for 5 minutes. (5 min.)

2. Share as a class while copying brainstorm on board. At the end of sharing, many different lessons will be displayed on board. If students are struggling to come up with some solid answers, refer to prewriting questionnaire to develop some discussion. (10 min.)

3. Interactive Journal Activity: Student writes down a life lesson from board in his/her journal. Trying to avoid repeated lessons, break brainstormed ideas into sections for each row to choose from. Then rotate students around room. At each desk, each student responds to the chosen life lesson written in the classmate’s journal (stays on desk). Each student discusses the importance of lesson, experience with lesson, or outcomes he/she has witnessed. When the student gets back to his/her original journal, 5-10 entries have been made. After reading through the entries, it is their turn to reflect and respond in the journal by making one last entry on this life lesson. (45 min.)

4. Give Laws of Life essay assignment. (10 minutes)

5. Discuss as a class what they have learned from their classmates. Ask if they have learned any other life lessons. Ask what lesson Scout learns in TKAM.

HMWK: Write what lesson Scout learns in TKAM, reflect why by giving examples, causes and effects, etc.

Day 2:

1. Journal prompt: What life lessons do you and Scout have in common? (5 minutes)

2. Turn in homework. (5 minutes)

3. Look at writing prompt and write ways that both Scout and you have similar life lessons. Give at least three reasons. If the students discover a different lesson would be better, they have to start over with Scout. It would be best to remind students they need to pick a lesson in which they can identify with Scout. (25 minutes)

4. Share with writing group (groups of 4 students). (20 minutes)

5. Next, students narrow examples/supports and this becomes their pre-write. (30 minutes)

Homework: Finish working on narrowing the examples/supports.

Day 3:

1. Writing Prompt: How do life lessons help shape your life? (5 minutes)

2. Read example of essay. (10 minutes)

3. On board, have students fill in structure of 5-paragrah essay. Essays should have introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. (20 minutes)

4. Give students time to arrange their essay into this structure. Where do the examples/supports belong? (25 minutes)

8. Start writing essay in class (20 minutes)

Homework: Have rough draft ready for peer editing the next class.

Day 4:

1. Writing Prompt: How can you change your lead in to make it more effective? (5 minutes)

2. Discuss Noden’s ideas of introductory leads. Show an example of each (narrative, quotation, question, statistical, mystery, descriptive, imagine, direct, and combination) on overhead. As a class, discuss each one. (25 minutes)

3. Meet in writing groups and discuss how each person can add an introductory lead to essay and enhance the essay. (25 minutes)

4. While in groups, have students exchange essays with another peer in writing group and edit essay using peer editing scoring guide. Students should give sheet to the essay’s author back and discuss changes/suggestions orally. (30 minutes)

Homework: Prepare second draft using suggestions from peer editing sheet.



Day 5:

1. Writing Prompt: What have you learned about your life lesson or a classmate’s life lesson? (5 minutes)

2. Within writing group, complete one more peer edit using the peer editing sheet. Student editors and writers should discuss suggestions/changes orally after filling out the sheet. (20 minutes)

3. Work on third rough draft in class using classmates in writing group and teacher for questions. (60 minutes)

Homework: Prepare final draft to turn in the next class.

Day 6:

1. Writing Prompt: If you could teach someone your life lesson, who would you teach and why? (5 minutes)

2. Fill out Laws of Life Essay Release Form for each student. (5 minutes)

2. Share essays with class (70 minutes)

3. Class votes on top two essays. (6 minutes)

After finishing unit:

1. Grade essays using scoring guide.

2. Submit top three essays to contest at district level.

3. District announces winners during an evening celebration with the board members.

4. Winners are entered into St. Louis competition (If winner is selected to go to St. Louis competition, edit out Scout's connections. The national competition just wants a personal essay-no literary connection.)
Scoring Guides:

Attached


Works Cited

Bean, Janis E. “Teacher’s Guide: Laws of Life Essay.” 9 April 2006. <http://www.lawsoflife.org/pdf/teachersguidenew/teachersguide.pdf>.

“Character Plus: Laws of Life Essays.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 9 April 2006. <http://www.stltoday.com/characterplus/essays/lawsoflife>.

“Learning Domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy.” 5 June 2001. 9 April 2006. <http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html>.

Noden, Harry R. Image Grammar: Using Grammatical Structures to Teach Writing. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann, 1999.

Schrewe, Kristin. Personal Interview. 6 April 2006.



“Show-Me Standards.” Missouri Department of Secondary Education. 16 April 2006. <http://dese.mo.gov/standards/>.
Laws of Life Essay Assignment

McCandless

English I
Due Dates:

Outline Due:

Rough Draft Due:

Final Draft Due:

Final Draft Grade: Major
Assignment: This essay is about yourself, your values, and how you parallel Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Your personal laws of life are those principles and ideals that tell you how to live your life … like being honest … or trying your hardest at everything you do. Think about the people and experiences that have helped you form these laws. Have you told someone whom you care about that he or she is important to you? Your essay could be written about that person’s role in helping to shape your values. The most important aspect to this essay is that you must write from your heart! You need to discuss how this law of life is important in Scout’s life as well.
The essay must use proper grammar and spelling. It should be done in blue/black ink (write only on one side of paper) or typed (double space—12 point Times New Roman font, please). The final draft should have each rough draft stapled behind the final draft. The essay should have an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion.
Audience: Teacher and classmates

Approximate Length: 5 paragraphs
Here are some helpful hints for writing the essay:

Introduction
The opening sentence "hooks" the reader's interest and encourages him/her to read on.
The paragraph then has a transition to the thesis, or main point of the essay.  Typically, the thesis is made in the last sentence of the first paragraph. The thesis should be stated clearly and forcefully. The thesis is the answer to the question you are exploring.

Body Paragraph(s)
The purpose of these paragraph(s) is to defend the thesis statement.
Each body paragraph should be limited to making a single point.
Use evidence from your own life experiences and To Kill a Mockingbird to support each of the three points you are making.
Finally, and most importantly, are the three (more or less) body paragraphs convincing? Do they make the case you want to make? Do they persuade the reader to believe as you do?

Conclusion
The conclusion often starts with a restatement of the thesis, then ties together the points of the body paragraphs.
Do not introduce new material in this paragraph!
 The essay ends gracefully, perhaps by connecting back to the original hook or concluding with a forceful statement about the thesis.

Helpful Hints
Don’t refer to your own writing, paragraphs or essay.
You may use I and you in this personal narrative.
Live by Love

Candi Wiley

Belleville West High School

04/05/2005


I may be young, but I have been through my share of hard times. No matter what happens, though, I always keep a positive outlook on life. The laws I live my life by help me to live a positive life. My life’s laws are to respect, help, and love everyone.

Ever since I was little, I have watched my mom demand respect from everyone. I have never seen anyone disrespect her. As I got older, my mom taught me how to stand up for myself and get respect from others. There is one key to being respected. In order for someone to truly respect you, they have to feel that you respect them also. Everyone has different opinions, but it is important to respect everyone’s individual views. I don’t agree with everyone’s beliefs, but there are respectful ways to get my points across without being rude or hurting people’s feelings.

Another important law I live my life by is helping people. I’d like to donate money to charities around the world, but I don’t have very much money, so I’ve had to find other ways of helping people. I’m in a few clubs at school that do community service and service around the world. We raised money for children in Africa during the holidays. Even though the money didn’t come out of my pocket, I still feel like I made a difference in the lives of those children. Aside from the clubs I’m in, I still try helping my peers. When my friends are having problems, I try to give them moral support and good advice. The one piece of advice that I think everyone would benefit from is that everything happens for a reason, so if we just trust in God, he will bring us through anything. That may seem like common sense, but there are many people that lose sight of simple things when they are going through hard times. I feel a responsibility to remind them of all the things they’ve forgotten, especially of God’s goodness.

The final and most important law I live my life by is love. My entire life I’ve been brought up to love everyone, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I learned the importance of expressing love. About a month ago my boyfriend died in a car accident. I was upset for many reasons, but one of the main reasons I was upset was because I wasn’t sure if he knew how much I loved him. Ever since that happened I realized that life is very short. It isn’t enough to just love people; we have to show them that we love them too. I don’t ever want to say goodbye without saying I love you or go on a trip without giving hugs. No matter what happens, I want all of my loved ones to know that I truly do love them.

I have always known what my values were, but I have never thought about where they came from until writing this essay. All of the laws that I live my life by, I have either learned from my parents or gained through life experiences. I hope to continue to live my life by these laws. I never want to forget to help and respect others, and most important I never want to forget to express my love to the people I care about!



Noden’s Introductory Leads
Lead=Hook

The Narrative Lead


  • Compelling story in one to three paragraphs

  • Tends to be a bit longer than the others

All you can do is sit there and watch as your ship lurches, signaling the exit of hyperspace. Suddenly your ship is put into the middle of a fierce intergalactic battle. Energy beams float through space all around you and pretty soon a ship bursts into flames near you.

Without thinking, your hand goes to the throttle control and instantly you are thrusting forward at half the speed of light. You glance quickly behind you before your targeting system picks up a stray enemy fighter. Now just a hundred yards in from of you is your quarry.

With a sudden burst of adrenaline, your heart begins to beat faster and faster as you wait for the targeting crosshairs to turn red. Now just moments away from turning your enemy into disarranged particles of carbon, a red light flashes on the visor of your battle helmet. You change a glance down at the control panel of your fighter. You turn around just in time to see a missile of another enemy fighter slam into the right engine of your craft. You wait for the next screen to appear, and you press “New Game.”

“Okay,” you remark, “let’s try this level again.”

8th grader Zach Vesoulis




The Quotation Lead


  • Brings conversational tone to essay.

  • Comment lures the reader.

“Quack, quack!” Canada geese waddled across the road at a pace comparable to that of a tired turtle. Remembering her motto about the bothersome geese, Mom shouted, “Fly or die.”

Nicole Passan


The Question Lead


  • Intrigues the reader by posing one or more direct questions.

  • It is one of the more difficult leads to write.

John Grisham had always hated English. In college, he even earned Ds in freshman English. So how did he become a writer with three suspense novels at the top of the charts?

Laura Faulkner


The Statistical Lead


  • Impresses readers.

Child abuse is becoming one of the fastest growing acts of violence in the United States. According to the American Humane Association, 1.4 mission cases of child abuse were reported in the U.S. in 1982. Nearly 1/5 of these victims were teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. Last year, nearly 1,300 abused children died.

8th grader Molly Fitzpatrick


The Mystery Lead


  • Keeps reader in suspense by posing unanswered questions.

Heart thumping, palms sweating, my Dad watches as the enemy shows its face: nine men, all wielding weapons of war and destruction. Although the enemy does not outnumber my Dad’s side, he realizes that their skill is far superior and that at any time one man could win the war. Still he does not lose faith and holds his breath as he awaits the almost inevitable onslaught

Patrick Mazenec

The Descriptive Lead


  • Splash images like poetry, painting vivid characters, animals, objects or unusual settings.

The midsummer sun was high in a clear yellow-brown sky. The morning’s filmy blue clouds had dissipated, and the temperature was 8 degrees Fahrenheit—way up from last night’s low of minus 100 degrees. A breeze wafted from the west at about eight miles an hour.

A perfect afternoon for a drive on Mars.

William Newcott




The Imagine Lead


  • Related to descriptive lead.

  • Asks the reader to imagine something.

Imagine this, you are sitting home and the next thing you know you get this disease and your blood starts to clot. In other words, you freeze, right there. This is what happens in Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

Daniel Pipitone

The Direct Lead


  • Best for technical journal articles, essay tests or business memos.

In this chapter we examine the Max Lange Attack, the Classical Variation of the Two Knights’ Defense and a line in the Scotch Gambit that can arise if Black avoids the other two systems.

Levy and Keene

The Combination Lead


  • Combine lead techniques.

What would cause you to go through 49 diapers each day? To go through 11 gallons of formula a week? To spend $1.25 million on medical expenses? To spend $1.45 million on four years of college education? Multiple births.

Linsay Davis


Points Received = ________________ = _______________ %
Points Possible (60)




Category/Weight


4



3


2


1-0




Grammar and Mechanics


X1

Few spelling, punctuation, grammatical, or mechanical errors

Some errors, but they do not detract from the overall clarity of the paper

Frequent errors that distract the reader from the main purpose of the paper

Large number of errors that diminish the overall quality of the paper


Thesis Statement


X2

Thesis statement is clear, concise, and well-developed

Thesis statement is clearly states purpose but lack focus and/or development

Thesis statement is present but lacks clarity, focus, and development

Thesis statement is unclear or nonexistent



Organization


X3

Lead-in captures reader’s attention; logical transitions; definitive conclusion

Lead-in, transitions, and conclusion are present but lack creativity and originality

Weak or poorly constructed lead-in; ineffective transitions and conclusion

No lead-in present; few or no transitions; ineffective or nonexistent conclusion


Content


X3

Body paragraphs clearly support thesis statement, using many specific details/examples

Body paragraphs support thesis statement, using many details and examples

Body paragraphs support thesis statement but with few details or examples

Body paragraphs do not support thesis statement and do not contain details or examples


Form and Style

X1


Utilizes appropriate grade-level word choice, sentence fluency, varied sentence structure, and active voice

Demonstrates appropriate grade-level word choice and active voice; sentence structure is correct but lacks variety

Word choice is inappropriate or below grade level; use of passive voice is present; several poorly constructed sentences

Word choice is inappropriate or below grade level; use of passive voice is frequent; many poorly constructed sentences



TKAM/Scout

X3


Parallels have been made between writer and Scout’s life lessons.

Some parallels have been made between writer and Scout’s life lessons.

Few parallels have been made between writer and Scout’s life lessons.

The essay barely or does not mention Scout or TKAM.



Writing Process

X2


Writing process is taken seriously by making changes throughout rough drafts. Suggestions were made on final draft.

Writing process is evident although some suggestions are not done on final draft.

The writing process lacks as some drafts are missing and suggestions are sometimes not done.

The writing process is lacking and rough drafts are missing altogether.

SCORING GUIDE—Laws of Life Narrative

Points Received = ___________/60 = _______________ %



Peer Editing for the Laws of Life
To the editor: Please write your name in the table. Please consider what kind of feedback you would like to receive and try to offer the same quality of feedback to your classmates. Follow the steps carefully, providing attention to detail to help the writer. Do not limit yourself to this box: feel free to write in the body of the essay! Read the work slowly, putting checks by the more effective parts of it and putting question marks by the parts that are unclear to you. Circle a spelling or capitalization errors, and note any other mechanical problems by underlining or circling.


Writer Name:

Editor Name:


General Reaction—Read your classmate’s Laws of Life Personal Narrative thoroughly to understand its ideas. Write a few sentences addressing your first impressions about it.

Does the plot make sense? Is it well organized?

Has if fulfilled the assignment of focusing on a law of life as a theme? Other impressions?





Is the main character three-dimensional? Do you believe that this character is real?

What can the author add to make this character more real?

What elements or parts do not work with your expectations of the character?

Are the secondary characters all necessary? Explain.







What is the main conflict? Describe.

How has the main character been presented with obstacles? Please describe.

How can this be made more effective? What could be added to make it clearer?





Does the narrative contain detailed descriptions of people, places, and/or objects?

How can the descriptions be improved?








Comment on the author’s use of

Dialogue


Sensory imagery

Use of a quote








Which parts of the story detract from the story? What is unnecessary?




Suggestions: Offer the writer at least two specific suggestions that might help him or her to improve the narrative. Think of questions you had while reading: Did it make sense? Were you able to follow along?

(These may be questions that your classmate will want to answer in the next draft.)







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