Jaime and Derek
Teaching, Teacher Education, Strategy Development
The past few days, we've been teaching SRSD argument writing using TREE+C. For those of you not familiar with SRSD argument writing, TREE+C is a mnemonic that stands for Topic/Introduction, Reasons, Evidence, Ending (+Counterclaim). One of the most powerful steps of SRSD writing is when students evaluate an exemplar piece theoretically written by another student. (Or in this case, generated by an adult disguising him/herself as a student very adept at argument writing. We shall call him "Bob.")
Our dedicated writing lessons come at the end of the day and students have been doing several pieces of writing lately, and there is general fatigue for any human being who has to sit for a majority of the day. It was our goal to get kids moving, talking, and physically involved in the work of picking apart the exemplar. Remembering an old text-mapping strategy, we decided to blow up the font of the exemplar, paste it onto bulletin board paper, and have the students work collaboratively looking for claims, reasons, and evidence. We allowed them freedom in the way they annotated the exemplar and marked the text. Placing the exemplar scrolls on the four walls of the classroom allowed groups to work individually and then focus attention back to the center for whole class discussion.
This simple twist made examining the exemplar much more interactive for the students, and they didn't feel like this was just "another boring writing activity." We were so pleased with the results. Despite the afternoon fatigue and post-lunch coma, students were really into collaboration around this piece. Going forward, we are going to intentionally look for more ways to craft writing lessons that get kids up and moving.
Jaime and Derek