This lesson plan demonstrates how to use Revision Assistant for an in-class assignment that helps prepare students for standardized tests. It uses a Signal Check prompt on social networks, called "Letter to the Editor: Social Media," which can be accessed in the Signal Check tab of the Revision Assistant Library.
Letter to the Editor: Social Media | Argumentative | Grades 9-10
Many people use social networks on a daily basis, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but not everyone thinks that using them is a good idea. Some people think that social media is distracting, while others think that social networks connect users to new people and ideas.
Write a persuasive essay for your school newspaper in which you state your opinion on the benefits or drawbacks of social networks. Convince your audience, which may include other students, teachers, and parents, to agree with your position.
- Students write to address the specific focus, content, organization, and style expectations for different modes of writing.
- Students revise their writing.
- Students acquire and apply the vocabulary of critical writing.
- Students write for a wider audience.
- Students practice timed writing for standardized tests.
- Students practice processed writing for publication.
Students will write in response to a prompt in a timed setting to prepare them for a standardized test.
REQUIREMENTS: Discuss Rubric Traits
While you will not be showing your students the prompt for the timed writing ahead of time, you can reveal the grading rubric. Have them look at each trait and list what they think that trait includes. What kind of questions would the evaluator be asking about the writing for this trait based on the descriptors at each level? What parts of the essay will the evaluator be looking at?
EVALUATE: Grade a Sample Essay
Distribute a sample essay written in response to a different prompt. Have students evaluate the sample according to the rubric. Then, poll the students as to what score they gave the essay in each domain. I normally have the students put their heads down and raise their hands when I come to the score they gave it in a particular domain. That way, they’re less likely to be influenced by how their peers scored it, and you will be able to see who is a little off. Reveal the score that the majority of the class gave the sample in each domain and discuss which specific features earned the essay the score they gave it. Reveal the actual score the essay received and discuss the differences and what they may show about how the students are evaluating the essay.
BRAINSTORM | Use Quick Prewriting Strategies
If time permits, remind students of the strategies that they have already been taught for brainstorming and outlining (e.g. free writing, listing, mapping, cubing, napkin outlines, tell me/show me/so what?).
TEST WRITING: Draft and Submit to Revision Assistant
Simulate a testing environment as closely as you can. For example, encourage students to log in to RA as soon as they walk into the room, but have them start writing at the same time, on your signal. Students should save their work as they go, but they should not perform a signal check to get feedback until they are completely done or until the time is up. Alternatively, you could instruct them not to do a signal check until the next day in class. They should use the allotted time to do their best at responding to the prompt without any assistance. You want them to see what they can do on their own.
Reviewing and Reflecting
REVIEW: Revision Assistant Score and Feedback
Have students do a signal check of the completed assignment and review the feedback for each trait. Then, ask them to try to raise the bar for one or more. Depending on how much time students have, they could raise the bar for their weakest trait or traits for which they have one or two bars.
REFLECT: Think about the Process
There are a few different avenues for reflection including the following:
- Copy down part of your essay that RA labeled as strong. Do you agree with that assessment? Why or Why not?
- Copy down part of your essay that RA labeled as weak that you’re not sure how to improve. What questions do you have about the feedback?
- What are your strongest and weakest domains? What has RA shown you that you do well? What has RA shown you that you need to work on?
- Name something from your essay that you successfully improved. How might you consistently avoid a similar problem when doing a timed writing in the future?
- What did you learn about your writing from this exercise?
- What are a few (2-3) things that you might want to do differently next time
- What are a few (2-3) things that you know you do well automatically at this point in your experience?
Written by Caty Dewalt, Upper St. Clair High School
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