Informational Essay Planning: Essay Rubric and Planner | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M3A:U2:L15

Informational Essay Planning: Essay Rubric and Planner

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can intentionally use verbs in active and passive voice and in the conditional and subjunctive mood. (L.8.3)
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized. (W.8.2)

Supporting Targets

  • I can intentionally use verbs in the active and passive voice in my World War II invisibility informational essay.
  • I can identify strategies and resources to help me spell correctly on my informational essay.
  • I can plan an informational essay using relevant details from texts that are carefully selected and organized.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Gathering Evidence note-catcher

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Writer and Reviewing Learning Targets (7 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Reviewing Essay Rubric (20 minutes)

B. Language Mini Lesson (5 minutes)

C. Planning the Essay (10 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Preview Homework (3 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Finish your Informational Essay Planner

  • In this lesson, students prepare to write their essay on the treatment of American POWs in Japanese camps and Japanese-Americans in American internment camps. Students are building on writing skills that they have developed in the first two modules; therefore, they are expected to do more of this work with less scaffolding. However, a sample Informational Essay Planner with an annotated body paragraph is provided in the supporting materials of this lesson.
  • Correct spelling is an expectation at the 8th grade level and has been expected throughout  the preceding modules. In this module, students are given time to address spelling using strategies and resources as they write their informational essay.
  • This is the first essay in which students are asked not only to think about their writing, but also how they use language, specifically using active and passive voice and choosing words intentionally. 
  • Students review the NYS Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric to understand the expectations of the essay. However, since students analyzed this rubric in more depth in Module 1, the review focuses only on the "3" column, which reflects the expectations that students should meet in their writing. The "4" column is left in to encourage students to set higher goals for themselves.  
  • In advance: Decide which discussion appointments students will use today; cut out Rubric Criteria strips.
  • Post: Learning targets

Materials

  • Informational Essay Prompt and New York State Grades 6-8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric (one per student)
  • Rubric Criteria strips (one strip per pair; one for modeling)
  • Document camera
  • Sample Rubric Criteria strips (for teacher reference)
  • Quote Sandwich guide (for informational essay) (one per student; one to display)
  • Informational Essay Planner (one per student)
  • Sample Informational Essay Planner (for teacher reference)
  • Gathering Textual Evidence Note-catcher (from Lesson 3)
  • "The Life of Mine Okubo"(from Lesson 4)
  • Primary Sources (from Lesson 6)

Opening

Opening

A. Engaging the Writer and Reviewing Learning Targets (7 minutes)

  • As students enter, distribute the Informational Essay Prompt and New York State Grades 6-8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric. Invite students to sit with their discussion appointment partner. Be sure that they have their Gathering Evidence note-catcher from their homework and ask students to reread the essay prompt. Invite students to share which piece of evidence they starred on their Gathering Evidence note-catchers and explain why they starred it.
  • Cold call one to two pairs to share their responses. Responses will vary; listen for students to say something like: "I starred this quote from Unbroken: 'When the guards weren't venting their fury at the captives, they entertained themselves by humiliating them. Louie was forced to stand up and dance ... while his guards roared with laughter.' I think it's the best evidence because it is Louie describing himself and he doesn't think of himself as a live person anymore. He has been dehumanized."
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets. Read the learning targets aloud:

* "I can intentionally use verbs in the active and passive voice in my essay." 

* "I can spell correctly in my essay."

* "I can plan an informational essay using relevant details from texts that are carefully selected and organized."

  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about which learning target they feel most comfortable with right now: the first one, the second one, or the third one.
  • Ask students to show you which they are most comfortable with by putting that many fingers in the air; for instance, if they are most comfortable with the first one, put one finger in the air.
  • Then, ask students to do the same thing for the learning target they are least comfortable with. Remind students to keep that learning target in mind during class today and encourage their comfort level with that learning target before they leave class today. To do that, they need to do their best thinking and ask questions.  

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reviewing Essay Rubric (20 minutes)

  • Remind students that in Module 1, their essays were assessed using the New York State Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric and that same rubric will be used this time. Emphasize the importance of students knowing what criteria will be used to assess their work, so it's important to review that rubric.
  • Direct students' attention to the full rubric included on the Informational Essay Prompt and Rubric. Show them the headings of the rows on the left side and read them aloud:

-    Content and Analysis

-    Command of Evidence

-    Coherence, Organization, and Style

-    Control of Conventions

  • Remind students that these are the different aspects of writing that they are assessed on. Now, point to the "3" column. Explain that this column is what is generally expected of them in their writing.
  • Distribute one of the Rubric Criteria strips to each pair of students. Point out that at the top of the strip is one heading of one row on the rubric and that the criterion on that strip is from the "3" column on the rubric. Then, point out that there is a prompt for students to finish: "This means, in my informational essay, I need to ..."
  • Explain that students need to write, in their own words, what the criterion will look like in their writing. Model this by displaying the Rubric Criteria strips for modeling using the document camera. Do a think-aloud. First read the criterion:

-    "demonstrate grade-appropriate analysis of the text(s)"

  • Explain that to know what this will look like in the essay, it's important to consider the writing prompt.
  • Model how to finish the prompt: "This means, in my informational essay, I need to ... accurately explain how American POWs and Japanese-Americans were made invisible based on the texts we read." 
  • Point out that on their copies of the Informational Essay Prompt and Rubric Criteria, students can take notes about writing their essays. Have students take notes based on your modeling in the Content and Analysis row.
  • Invite students to turn their attention to their own Rubric Criteria strip and to work with their partner to describe what that looks like in their essay.
  • Then, ask pairs who had Strip 1 to raise their hands. Cold call one pair to share what they wrote and encourage students to write it down on their copy of the Informational Essay Prompt and Rubric in the space provided.
  • Continue this until all six strips have been shared and students have taken notes. Refer to the Sample Rubric Criteria strips for possible answers.  
  • Consider pulling a small group of students who struggle with writing during this time and reading through the model body paragraph in the Sample Informational Essay Planner (for teacher reference) (see supporting materials).

B. Language Mini Lesson (5 minutes)

  • Let students know that they need to use both the active and passive voice in their essays.
  • Write these two sentences on the board:

-    Louie was physically hurt by the guards.

-    The guards physically hurt Louie.

  • Read each sentence aloud, asking students to follow along.
  • Ask students to look at the first sentence and think about who is emphasized more in it: Louie or the guards. Invite students to give a thumbs-up when they have an answer. Call on one to share thoughts. Listen for: "In the first sentence, Louie is emphasized more because he is mentioned first."
  • Reread the second sentence: "The guards physically hurt Louie." 
  • Once again, ask students to think about who is emphasized in that sentence and give a thumbs-up when they know. Call on a student to share. Listen for: "In the second sentence, the guards are emphasized more because they are mentioned first."
  • Now ask students to turn and talk to their partner to identify which sentence is written in active voice and which is written in passive voice. After about 1 minute, cold call a pair. Listen for: "The first sentence is in the passive voice and the second sentence is in the active voice." 
  • Remind students to keep the active and passive voice in mind; they will need to use those intentionally when they draft their essay in the next lesson. While most of their essay will be in the active voice, at times they may use the passive when the "acted upon" (Louie or Mine, for example) is the more important in that particular sentence.

C. Planning the Essay (10 minutes)

  • Distribute the Informational Essay Planner. Point out its similarity to the essay planner they used in Module 2 to write their argument essays.
  • Point out that a major difference between the essay planner in Module 2 and the Informational Essay Planner is that authors don't need to take a position or address a counterclaim in informational writing, but they still need to have a focus statement or topic.
  • Distribute the Quote Sandwich guide (for informational essay) and display on the document camera. Read it aloud and invite students to follow along silently. Point out that this should look familiar since they used it in Module 2.
  • Explain that all three parts of the quote sandwich are very important for the reader to understand the information they include in their essays and how it develops their ideas. Explain that they may use this Quote Sandwich guide as a reference.
  • Ask students to look at their Gathering Evidence note-catchers. Instruct the students to use them to fill out their essay planners.
  • Students may decide to use details they did not put on their Gathering Evidence note-catcher, which is fine as long as it's still relevant to the essay prompt. Remind them of the resources they have for evidence and quotes, such as their structured notes that they have been completing throughout Units 1 and 2, Unbroken "The Life of Mine Okubo" (from Lesson 4), as well as the primary sources they read (from Lessons 6).
  • Let students know that correct spelling will be an important part of this essay. Ask students to think about strategies they can use to make sure they are spelling words correctly. Cold call several students and listen for them to say: "You can use a dictionary," "You can read the word out loud to yourself," "You can make sure it's the right form of the word, like 'there,' 'their,' and 'they're.'"
  • Remind students that it is important that they are careful about spelling as they plan their essays, especially words that may not be as familiar to them, such as names, places, and domain-specific words.  
  • Invite students to work on their essay planner independently. As students work, circulate to listen in and support as needed. Push students to be clear and explicit in their plan. Invite students to use a dictionary or spell check as they begin to plan their essay.

Closing & Assessments

Closing

A. Preview Homework (3 minutes)

  • Tell students that their homework is to finish their Informational Essay Planner. In the next lesson, they will draft their essays, so it's important they do their very best on the planner. Remind students to take home the resources they may need to finish the planner, especially their Gathering Evidence note-catchers.

Homework

Homework
  • Finish your Informational Essay Planner

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