Two weeks ago my class and I started our Argument Writing Unit. I decided to start small and very controlled. After reading All You Need For a Snowman by Alice Schertle, we listed all of the items identified in the book as “necessities” for making a snowman. Since the kids have used the RAISE model consistently throughout the school year, I provided the graphic organizer with the question “What is the most important part of a snowman?”
To start, I showed a copy of the graphic organizer on the P-Board next to the list we compiled. I intentionally chose an item from the book that wasn’t included on the list, “fanny pack”, and modeled how to create an Argument. The kids were able to Restate and Answer the question easily. With some guidance, we developed three thoughtful reasons a fanny pack is critical to a Snowman.
The next day we revisited the list we had created and the Argument we produced. We discussed some possible reasons other items may be necessary for a snowman, but did not list them. Each student received a graphic organizer and began writing. They completed their initial draft in one day.
The next mini-lesson, we, once again, visited my Argument. I introduced the transition words in fact and therefore and invited the class to share where they should be included. The responses were limitless. The kids had a great sense of where to place the words and how these words made the Argument more interesting. I then asked them to reread their pieces and include the transition words. Many of them were able to complete this task with little assistance.
The next day, I showed an example of the Argument Writing checklist and posted it next to my Argument on the P-Board. We went through each item together to see if my piece met all of the expected requirements. Each student was given an Argument Writing folder, checklist and their piece. Using their writing, we went through each and every line. At this point, the kids had the opportunity to edit their work.
On the final day, I gave each student a snowman writing paper and their self-edited piece. Unlike their usual writing pieces, I did not make any editing marks. They were required to complete the final piece independently. You could have heard a pin drop when they were doing their rewrite. Kids who typically fly through their work and are fine passing in a sloppy final copy worked diligently and neatly.
Overall, I was very happy with their final products. The kids used their imaginations and produced interesting and thoughtful reasons why their item was the most crucial. By breaking each step down, I feel they were able to get a better understanding of the steps needed to write an engaging piece. It is my hope that they are able to transfer this to their next Argument writing piece.