Personal Essay: Grade 4 Writing Unit 2



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Session 4

Concept

Writers generate ideas for writing personal essays.

Teaching Point

Writers brainstorm essay ideas from the important ideas in their writer’s notebooks.




References

Materials

  • Writer’s notebooks

  • Anchor charts:




Note

  • Post on the daily schedule or verbally ask students to bring their writer’s notebook and a pencil to the meeting area.

Connection

  • Remind students that they have been studying narrative texts to determine the important ideas and generate their own possible essay ideas. Another source for collecting entries that can become essay ideas is their own writer’s notebooks.

Demonstration/

Teaching

  • Explain that students will look back in their writer’s notebooks today and look for important ideas that can become possible essay ideas. They can think of an important idea related to a notebook entry that they have already written to help them think of other possible essay ideas.

  • Demonstrate how you look through your own writer’s notebook, focus in on one entry, think of an important idea related to that entry, and recall two experiences, observations, facts, or events that can be used as evidence to support this important idea.

  • Record the important idea and evidence on your Possible Essay Ideas T-chart.

Active Engagement

  • Explain to students that this important idea might remind them of two experiences, observations, facts, or events of their own. Give students time to think about what this idea means to them and share their ideas with a partner.

  • Have two or three students share their ideas with the class. Remind students to listen carefully because these ideas might spark other memories.

  • Have students add the important idea and their own related experiences, observations, facts, or events to their T-charts.

  • Demonstrate this process one more time with another example from your own writer’s notebook.

Link

Writers, today you will continue this work independently. You will look at the entries in your own writer’s notebooks, think about the important idea related to these entries, and recall other related experiences, observations, facts, or events. Then you will jot down these important ideas and evidence in your writer’s notebooks. Talk about your ideas with a partner today. Your ideas might spark memories for others, and their ideas might spark memories for you.

Writing and

Conferring

  • Conduct individual conferences to support students’ efforts at thinking of new examples of experiences, observations, facts, or events related to the important ideas in their notebook entries.

  • You might need to guide students in table conferences to do this work. Have them turn to a page where they wrote about events related to a person, place, or thing and about a strong feeling and help them think of related important ideas.

Mid-Workshop Teaching Point

Writers, in order to keep you thinking of more ideas, take a few minutes to share your important ideas and related evidence with the other students at your tables. Add any new ideas that spark a memory to your own list.

Share


  • Convene students in the meeting area.

  • Bring closure to today’s workshop by having several students share essay ideas from their notebooks. Summarize the thinking the students used.

  • Have students recall and share one thing that they learned.



Session 5

Concept

Writers generate ideas for writing personal essays.

Teaching Point

Writers choose ideas and write opinion statements for their own personal essays.




References

Materials

  • Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5, Book 3: Breathing Life Into Essays, Lucy Calkins

  • Writer’s notebooks

  • Anchor charts:

  • Comparing Narratives and Essays

  • Possible Essay Ideas

  • Thought Prompts




Note

  • Post on the daily schedule or verbally ask students to bring their writer’s notebook and a pencil to the meeting area.

Connection

  • Remind students that they have been studying many different texts to determine the important ideas and generate their own possible essay ideas. Today they will choose an important idea and related evidence from their Possible Essay Ideas T-chart to develop into a personal essay.

Demonstration/

Teaching

  • Explain to students that they will be choosing an important idea that matters the most to them, one in which they have two different examples that they can use as evidence.

  • Demonstrate how you look through your list of Possible Essay Ideas and focus in on one important idea at a time. Then look at two related examples and think about how they support the important idea.

  • Position yourself as a “thinker” and a student as a “prompter” to demonstrate how you can push your thinking about your important idea. Begin by thinking aloud whatever thoughts you have about the important idea or the evidence. When you get stuck, the student suggests a thought prompt from the list to help you continue thinking in new ways about your ideas.

  • In this same way, students will be working with partners to help each other push their thinking about their important ideas and evidence.

  • Choose the idea that matters the most to you and record the important idea and the two related examples on a clean page in your writer’s notebook.

Active Engagement

  • Have students open up their writer’s notebooks to their own Possible Essay Ideas T-chart.

  • Have students look at their first important idea on their Possible Essay Ideas page and think about how the two related examples support the important idea.

  • Encourage students to use thought prompts with a partner to push their thinking.

  • Have one or two students share their ideas with the class.

Link

Writers, today you will continue to look at the ideas and related examples from your own Possible Essay Ideas chart and think about the one that matters the most to you. Then you will record this important idea and two related examples on a clean page in your own writer’s notebooks.

Writing and

Conferring

  • Conduct individual conferences to support students’ efforts at choosing the important idea that matters most to them.

Mid-Workshop Teaching Point

  • Convene students in the meeting area.

Writers, now that you have all decided on an idea for your personal essay, you need to think of your own opinion, or perspective, related to that important idea. Remember, an opinion is an important part of a personal essay. We need to turn our important ideas into opinion statements. As writers we can zoom in on an important idea and say, The idea I have about this is… For example:

  • Important idea: Overcome your fears. Opinion statement: People need to find a way to overcome their fears.

  • Important idea: Have patience. Opinion statement: I think people should have more patience.

Now it is time for you to turn your important ideas into your own opinion statements. Try writing your opinion statements three or four different ways until you find one that matches specifically what you want to say in your essay.

Share


  • Convene students in the meeting area.

  • Bring closure to today’s workshop by having several students share their important ideas and opinion statements, or perspectives, with the class. Summarize the thinking the students used.

  • Have students recall and share one thing that they learned.




Thought Prompts





  • The thought I have about this is …

  • In other words …

  • The surprising thing about this is …

  • This makes me realize …

  • Another way to look at this is …

  • In my experience …







Session 6

Concept

Writers generate ideas for writing personal essays.

Teaching Point

Writers use Boxes and Bullets to organize their ideas for a personal essay.




References

Materials

  • Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5, Book 3: Breathing Life Into Essays, Lucy Calkins

  • Writer’s notebooks

  • Anchor charts:

  • Comparing Narratives and Essays

  • Boxes and Bullets

  • Parallel Structures




Connection

  • Explain that writers need to know how an essay is organized in order to be able to write an essay of their own.

Demonstration/

Teaching

  • Introduce Boxes and Bullets as a way for students to organize their ideas for their personal essays.

  • Demonstrate how to record your position statement, or point of view, in the box and the two parallel supporting reasons next to the bullets on the organizer. Choose linking words and phrases from the Parallel Structures chart for recording your reasons.

Active Engagement

  • Do this same work using the essay ideas from a student volunteer. Have the class work together with you to record the point of view and reasons on a Boxes and Bullets organizer.

Link

Writers, today you will do this same work independently using your own ideas. Make them big enough to hold your ideas. Write your point of view in the box and then list your two reasons using a parallel structure next to the bullets.

Writing and

Conferring

  • Conduct individual conferences to support students’ efforts at using Boxes and Bullets to organize their ideas.

Share


  • Convene students in the meeting area.

  • Bring closure to today’s workshop by having several students read their point of view and two parallel supporting reasons with the class. Summarize the thinking the students used.

  • Have students recall and share one thing that they learned.




Boxes and Bullets
















Parallel Structures





  • One reason why I think/believe this is because …

Another reason why I think/believe this is because…


  • One example of … is …

Another examples of … is …


  • One time I …

Another time I …


  • One way that …

Another way that …


  • One person who …

Another person who …




Session 7

Concept

Writers learn strategies for good personal essay writing.

Teaching Point

Writers use their point of view to create essay introductions.




References

Materials

  • Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5, Book 3: Breathing Life Into Essays, Lucy Calkins

  • Writer’s notebooks

  • Writing folders and writing paper

  • Anchor charts:

  • Comparing Narratives and Essays

  • Boxes and Bullets

  • Ways to Start an Essay

  • Sample essay “Doing the Right Thing ”




Connection

  • Explain to students that they will be using their writing folders and paper instead of their writer’s notebook as they begin writing their essay today.

  • Explain that essay writers use the introduction to convey to readers that the ideas in the essay are important. It is essential that writers reach for precise words to capture their thoughts. We will use the following structure in our introductions:

  • The first sentence focuses the reader’s attention on the important idea.

  • The middle sentence(s) elaborate on the important idea.

  • The last sentence states the point of view.

Demonstration/

Teaching

  • Introduce the Ways to Start an Essay chart.

  • Demonstrate how to write the first sentence of your own essay several ways by using each essay starter.

  • Decide which essay starter works the best for the first sentence of your essay.

  • Write two or three more sentences that elaborate on your important idea.

  • End your introduction with a sentence that states your point of view.

  • Read your introduction to make sure that you like the way it sounds. Rewrite the parts that need revision.

Active Engagement

  • Do this same work using the important idea from a student volunteer. Have the class work together with you to try out different essay starters, choose the one that works the best, elaborate on the important idea, and then state the point of view. Read it over and rewrite parts that need revision.

Link

Writers, today you will do this same work independently using your own essay ideas. Remember, try out different essay starters and choose the one that works the best. Elaborate by writing two or more sentences and then state your point of view. Read over your introduction to make sure that you like the way it sounds. Rewrite the parts that need revision.

Writing and

Conferring

  • Conduct individual conferences to support students’ efforts at writing their introductions.

Mid-Workshop Teaching Point

  • Have students share their introductions with a partner.

Share


  • Convene students in the meeting area.

  • Bring closure to today’s workshop by having several students read their introductions. Summarize the thinking the students used.

  • Have students recall and share one thing that they learned.



Ways to Start an Essay





  • Many people think … I think …

  • Many people (do) … I (do) …

  • I used to think … Now I realize …

  • I used to (do) … Now I (do) …

  • In the world, people often … People should …

  • I used to wonder why … Now I know …



Doing the Right Thing


Some people in the world judge others by what they look like instead of what is on the inside. Kids are sometimes treated unfairly or avoided because they look different. Some kids even get their friends to treat them badly, too. When people say and do mean things to others because of how they look, it hurts them deep inside.

One time a boy I know had a stain on his shirt, and he was sitting by himself at lunch. I saw that other kids were making fun of him. They said he should go out and get some new clothes. He was really sad that kids were making fun of him. I just sat there and felt bad for him. But then another boy I know went up and sat next to him, and pretty soon they were talking and laughing. I wish I had been the one who chose to do the right thing.

Another time a boy who wore glasses wanted to play basketball with some of us kids who were already playing. A couple of my friends made fun of him just because he was wearing glasses. I could tell that his feelings were hurt. I hurried over and said that I knew he was good at basketball and that he could play on my side. His face lit up, and my friends stopped teasing him. Later he told me how happy he was that I stood up for him. It made me feel so good to do the right thing.
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