Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Write in the Middle
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Write in the Middle
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Workshop 4: Teaching Persuasive Writing

The fourth workshop features the classrooms of two teachers: sixth-grade language arts teacher Jenny Beasley and fifth-grade teacher Jack Wilde. Both are teaching units on persuasive writing that allow students to write about topics that matter to them—topics drawn from their experiences within their own communities.

For Jenny's students, the definition of community is wide-ranging—it includes their families, their school, and their town. But under this broad umbrella, Jenny encourages her students to think specifically and concretely about issues that interest them. The students begin by exploring a range of possible editorial topics. When we catch up with the class, they already have narrowed their focus to one issue. Now, with Jenny's help, the students are laying the groundwork for effective and authentic editorials by stating their opinions, identifying their audiences and purposes, and beginning to think about support for their points of view.

Meanwhile, Jack is introducing his students to persuasive writing by asking them to write on a familiar subject—their school community. Using a skillful mix of modeling, brainstorming, and conferring, Jack is teaching his class how to develop and organize an effective persuasive essay. The children's audience is the school principal and their purpose is to persuade him to go along with a suggested change—letting fifth-graders go home for lunch or giving students more computer time, for example. We see the students beginning their first drafts, well on their way to the unit's culminating activity: choosing representative essays for the principal to read and respond to.

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