Do you have comments that you make repeatedly when giving students feedback? I definitely do, and on the top of the list is “tell me more.” So many of my students don’t fully develop their points, and their writing is pretty dull as a result. Therefore, I decided it was time to come up with a new way to teach my students to support their ideas.
It’s the start of a new semester for me and, as I often do, I reflected on that list of recurring comments to see if I could nip things in the bud this time.
Start with a Hook
I have some mini-lessons and activities that focus on supporting ideas, but I wanted a hook to pull my new students in, something that they would remember.
I like to use games and challenges that build skills while the kids are having fun, like when we learn about brainstorming with candy. Then, later, if I need to remind them about a skill, I can say, “Remember when we did that activity with the gummy worms?”
Because it is an exercise that stands out in their minds, they can quickly recall what we were working on.
The candy exercise gets them started on the process of supporting ideas for descriptive writing, but I needed a hook for persuasive and expository writing too. The end result is a series of Jamboards™ with a quick and engaging activity that requires students to support their ideas.
For this exercise, I group students and give them a choice like this one. They brainstorm reasons why someone would choose one of the options; then, on the next page, they record their three best reasons. Next, they do the same for the other option.
After that I ask each student to write a response where they explain their preference and the reasons why they would choose it.
I’ve come up with thirty of these topics, so I’ve got quite a pile I can choose from – and so many options for using them. We can do group work, personal response, and informal presentations. Or, I can choose use them as a bell ringers for review and reinforcement.
The best option, I think, is to have groups present their ideas to the class and then we can have an informal debate about which option is best.
Considering Others’ Viewpoints
What I love about this activity is that it covers a lot of bases – it focuses on idea development but it also requires students to do some speaking and listening and to write a personal response.
More importantly, though, it requires them to look at an idea from a point of view other than their own.
They might clearly prefer a skateboard over a bike, or they might be adamant that a football is a ball or that water is wet. However, because they need to consider how someone with a different view would support their choice, students will do an important critical thinking activity.
You can also grab some free Jamboards™ for taking attendance on this blog post.