Created by Sarah Cordova and 6th grade ELA teachers in CCSD

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1 It is suggested that teachers create their own model paragraph to use as a mentor text for this unit. You can craft your paragraph using the minilessons below, adding in any criteria that you would like. It will be a very easy way for students to see exactly what you are asking of them from the very beginning of the study. 1

2 Teaching Point Immersion Lesson 1-2: Growing Writers Recognize the Elements that Make Up an Engaging Paragraph. Remind students of what they already know about paragraph writing from fifth grade (topic sentence, supporting details, concluding sentence, indentation of first paragraph, basic conventions) Share example of paragraph and discuss what makes it engaging/not engaging. Annotate example as you discuss elements. Show students various examples of paragraphs (weak, strong, etc.) and have them discuss what makes the paragraph engaging/not engaging with small group. Chart these responses. Based on what students left out, discuss the elements of what a 6 th grade paragraph should contain. (Audience/Purpose, tone, transitional words/phrases, various sentence lengths, beginnings, types, etc.) Read Aloud/Model: Teacher selected paragraph exemplars (some strong/some weak) You can use a website like and click on student models for simple paragraphs (grades 1-3). Anchor Charts: Student Work Students will analyze and dissect/close read additional paragraph examples to recognize author s writing. Handouts: Guiding Questions for an Engaging Paragraph Homework: Students can take home another paragraph to analyze at home using the Guiding Questions for an Engaging Paragraph handout. CCSS: RL.6.2-RL.6.5, SL.6.1 2

3 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study 3

4 Generating Lesson 1-2: Growing writers generate ideas for an engaging paragraph by thinking about goals for the upcoming year. Explain that goals can be both emotional/social and physical and should be specific. Read aloud one or more of the mentor texts and think aloud as to the goals being discussed. Model a specific goal on a writing web (teacher choice of graphic organizer can be used here) and elaborate on what that goal really is along with how one could achieve that goal (Teacher should have goal in mind). Active Engagement: Students will complete 3-4 boxes on their web and share one with a classmate. Teacher will share out a few solid examples. Chart some ideas based on the ideas discussed in Active Engagement. Read Aloud/Model: Obama s speech from module 2, A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, Oh the Places You ll Go by Dr. Seuss, Odd Velvet by, or any beginning of the year text. Selecting Lesson: Growing writers thoughtfully and honestly choose topics by thinking about certain criteria. Explain that sometimes writers get to choose their own topics and what a privilege this is. Discuss that there are many criteria that go into selecting a topic for publication. Display Selecting Chart on SMARTBoard. Read through the first three columns of criteria from the chart, explaining each one and its importance. Discuss that some of a writer s selection is based on their audience. Discuss who the audience is for this piece and explain that you are just one audience member. Explain that this choice is final and therefore, the goal must be selected thoughtfully and carefully. Students will use 1-3 examples from their web and generate a 3-4 sentence paragraph in their writing notebook/graphic organizer. Homework: Students will ask parents for additional suggestions for goals. Handouts: Teacher created web graphic organizer or other handout to help students generate ideas for goals. CCSS: SL.6.1, W.6.4.A and W.6.4.D, W.6.5 Students will read through their notebook entries from the past few days and use the chart to help narrow down their choice to the one goal about which they will write their paragraph. Students will create their topic sentence on the back of their selecting sheets after their topic has been approved. Teacher may want to give sentence stems to guide students in 4

5 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study Active Engagement: Students will select 2-3 goals from their notebook and place on the first column of their selecting chart Read Aloud/Model: You model your thought process on how to narrow down topics. Anchor Charts: creating simple, yet clear topic sentences. Teacher should collect selecting sheets and approve topic selections before students move further in the writing process. Teachers can post a Going Public chart for students to see the topics of classmates and understand that their topic is a commitment and can not be changed. Handouts: Selecting Chart CCSS: W.6.4, W.6.5, SL.6.1 5

6 Collecting Lesson 1: Growing writers develop evidence that logically supports their topic sentence. Explain that the word evidence is another way to say supporting detail. Explain why the word evidence makes sense in this context. Discuss how writers create clear paragraphs by ordering/sequencing their evidence so the reader can make sense of their writing. (Use the analogy of getting dressed in the morning) Model collecting evidence: Topic Sentence: My goal is to become a better hitter in baseball. Supporting evidence could be: I will keep my eye on the ball by focusing the ball all the way from the pitching mound until the plate. I will be aware of my stance by noticing my position in the batter s box. I will practice hitting by going to the batting cage three times a week. Review how the writer is using specific words that relate to the topic and also giving a specific reason (by) in their evidence. Discuss how the evidence uses sensory details as well. You can use visuals as well. Active Engagement: Students will write down their first piece of supporting evidence and the how in their notebook. Anchor Chart: Students will compile at least 3 piece of specific supporting details that match their topic goal. Students will trade papers and find stars and wishes / glow and grow Handouts: N/A CCSS: W.6.2.B, W.6.3.B, W.6.4, W.6.5, SL.6.1, 6

7 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study Read Aloud/Model: Teacher exemplar 7

8 Drafting Lesson 1: Growing writers organize their writing and ensure that their details are engaging to their reader. Explain that writers construct compound sentences in order to engage the reader. One way they do this is by varying their sentence type using compound sentences. Define simple vs. compound sentence and show examples using an anchor chart. Model how to take the bullet points from a student s graphic organizer/notebook and craft complete, compound sentences on a draft. Active Engagement: Students will use one of their examples from their graphic organizer and create a complete, compound sentence. Anchor Charts: Students will craft the other examples from their graphic organizer and create complete, compound sentences. Students will write their draft on lined (yellow) paper and skip lines for their paragraph. This will most likely only be about 4-6 sentences. Handouts: N/A CCSS: W.6.3a-b, W.6.4, W.6.5, W.6.10, L.6.3a, L.6.2a 8

9 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study Read Aloud/Model: Teacher example 9

10 Drafting Lesson 2: Growing writers craft a hook for their paragraph in order to engage their reader. Writers craft a hook for their paragraph in order to engage their reader and build their background knowledge. Show students various types of hooks: setting, anecdote, question, quote, bold statement, interesting fact, jumping into action, etc. and explain that the hook precedes the topic sentence in order to engage the reader first. Students will craft 2-3 different hooks on a separate piece of drafting paper and discuss which is most effective with a partner. They will circle the selected hook on their draft and staple this piece of paper to the front of their draft. Model how the different types of hooks affect the reader. Active Engagement: Turn and talk with a partner and explain the type of hook you will try first and what it might sound like. Handouts: N/A CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, W.6.3a, SL.6.1 Read Aloud/Model: Teacher example Anchor Charts: Drafting Lesson 3: Growing writers develop a concluding sentence to wrap up their paragraph in order to leave the reader fulfilled. Explain that a concluding sentence must have a summation/paraphrase of the topic sentence. Discuss non-negotiable sixth grade conclusions (teacher preference). Students will craft 2-3 different conclusions on a separate piece of drafting paper and discuss which is most effective with a partner. They will circle the conclusion 10

11 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study Model different examples of conclusions and explain why they are effective. ****** (looking towards the future, circular, thoughts, speaking to the reader, etc.) Active Engagement: Look at various paragraphs and critique the conclusions effectiveness with a partner. Read Aloud/Model: Teacher example Anchor Charts: on their draft and staple this piece of paper to the back of their draft. Handouts: N/A CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, W.6.3e, SL

12 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study Revision Lesson 1: Growing writers include transitional phrases/words to create fluency for their reader. Explain that writers use transitional words/phrases to create a sense of chronological order and to connect ideas smoothly. Show students paragraphs with little or confusing transitional phrases and think aloud as to why that type of writing makes it confusing to the reader. Remind students how great writers stay away from the same beginnings of sentences. Model how adding transitional phrases helps to build fluency and make the reader s understanding more clear. Active Engagement: Students will work with a partner to add in necessary transitional phrases and discuss their reasons. Students will use a revision pen to add in transitional phrases in their supporting details. Handouts: - The same paragraph with/without transitional phrases List of transitional phrases as a student resource CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, W.6.3c, SL.6.1 Read Aloud/Model: Teacher example 12

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14 Revision Lesson 2: Growing writers add voice to their writing in order to give the reader a sense of their personality/message. Explain that voice can be seen as personality on paper. Someone who writes with voice is easily recognizable even without their name on the piece. Patricia Polacco, Dr. Seuss, Jerry Spinelli, Mo Willems, Eric Carle, David Shannon, etc. Share an anchor chart to explain the various ways that writers can add voice to their writing. Model how a bland and boring sentence can be embellished by adding in feelings, certain speech patterns, questions, interjections, figurative language, exaggeration, etc. Active Engagement: Students will take a bland and boring sentence like, I was so nervous about getting to class on time. and work with a partner to add voice. Share some examples and chart the differences. Read Aloud/Model: Teacher created sentences Anchor Charts: Students will go back into their draft and change a few sentences to show voice. They should use their revision pen to show the changes they made. Students will share their revisions with a partner and get feedback. Handouts: 14

15 CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, W.6.3d and W.6.3b, SL.6.1 ******Next Class/After this lesson: Revision Checklist for students Create a revision checklist that includes all of the requirements from the minilessons as well as any additional requirements you have asked from students. Ask students to complete the checklist 15

16 against their draft before they move into the editing stage. 16

17 Editing Lesson 1: Growing writers indent and write from margin to margin when writing paragraphs. Explain that there are certain formatting rules when it comes to writing paragraphs. Writers need to follow these rules so that their reader can follow their message and understand how to read their piece correctly and fluently. Paragraph writers always indent at the start of a paragraph and write from left margin to right margin. Show a piece of writing (create one or use a student sample with permission or a model below) with no indentations and writing that does not meet the margins. Explain how it becomes very hard to read it fluently and makes it difficult to focus on the content because the organization is so confusing. Active Engagement: Have students work with a partner to explain the purpose of indenting and where to properly begin their paragraph. Have them physically draw a line down the margins to show where they will write/type to on their final copy. Read Aloud/Model: Anchor Charts: Students will begin writing their paragraph or typing it on the computer paying attention to their margins and indenting. Handouts: CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, SL

18 Paragraph Writing Mini Unit of Study 18

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20 Editing Lesson 2: Growing writers utilize an editing checklist before publishing their paragraph to ensure that their piece is ready for an audience. Explain that while editing is a tough and sometimes tedious job, it is a very necessary part of writing. Discuss how a writer s job is to edit everything that they know themselves. Then, an editor (teacher) edits what the writer can t see themselves. Show students that they will be responsible for nonnegotiables this unit and these are conventions that students will need to attend to themselves before their editor reviews it for them. (Capitals on I, beginnings of sentences, and proper nouns, ending punctuation, appropriate spelling, to/too/two, their/there/they re, where/were, then/than). Then they will use an editing checklist to edit their own work (teachers can use their own evolving checklist which should include the non-negotiables for this unit). Review the items on the editing checklist and explain that students should go through each item one at a time making the corrections with their editing pens. Teachers may want to share the proofreading symbols with students as well. Show students how to do this using a piece of incorrectly edited work on the SMARTBoard using an editing pen and proofreading symbols. Active Engagement: Students will review their own draft, using their editing, pen for the first item on the editing checklist. They will show a partner any changes they made to their draft. Anchor Charts: Create a chart of non-negotiables for your classroom. Editing Marks Students will use an editing pen and an editing checklist to attend to the conventions on their draft. Students will make sure that they are focusing on the non-negotiables as well. Handouts: Editing checklist, Proofreading marks CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, L.6.1, L

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22 Publishing Lesson: Growing writers produce a neat and titled paragraph for their readers. Discuss how students have been working on their paragraph for a while attending to all of the stages of the writing process and taking care and time to ensure that their paragraph is the best it can be. Today they will create their final, published piece by producing a neat and titled paragraph for their readers. Share with students your guidelines for publishing and what you require for a published/final copy (title, heading, typed copy, pen, etc.) Active Engagement: Students will get their appropriate publishing materials ready to copy over their draft on appropriate paper. Anchor Charts: Students will publish their paragraph according to teacher guidelines. CCSS: W.6.5, W.6.4, W

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