Empowering Writers

September 2013 Lesson of the Month

This month’s lesson can be adapted for all grades, is a terrific vehicle for you to get to know students and for them to get to know one another. It involves a skill we refer to as “being a part of a credible group” – a useful tool that can be applied to convincing argument writing.

Teacher Background: Regardless of our age, we all have associations – life experiences, hobbies, activities and accomplishments that help define who we are, what we enjoy, and what we know. Outlining theses can reveal aspects of a person we might not otherwise see. Later, we can use these “credible group associations’ to lend an air of authority to a piece of opinion or argument writing. For example, if your family has had a garden, you might be able to use that credible group association to convince people of the value of home-grown vegetables.

Here’s what you do:

1) Download Argument Guide pages below titled “Who Am I?”

2) Explain to the class that everyone is connected in many ways to their family, community, friends, activities and clubs, causes and issues. (You can adapt this conversation based on the grade you teach.)

3) Create a chart similar to the one titled, “Name my Credible Group Associations” and tell the class that you’re going to make a list of your associations and connections so that they can begin to get to know you. Ex. Family Associations Activities and Sports • Mother of 3 – 2 daughters and a son • play tennis and golf • Daughter, Sister, Wife, Grandmother • enjoy Wii bowling • avid gardener Special Causes/Interests Hobbies • Crop Walk • reading – book club • Soup kitchen volunteer • collecting antiques Travel Pets • Italy • shih tzu named Little Man • Grand Canyon • cat named Lizzy

4) Provide an appropriate list of similar categories for your students. Reproduce and distribute. Have them begin their list of associations and connections.

5) Have them create a self portrait, or provide a photograph to display alongside their “Getting to Know You” list.

6) Have older students translate their profile information into a fluent “All About Me” paragraph. Provide sentence starters: • My family includes _____. • I am proud to be a part of _____. • I totally enjoy _____. • You’ll usually find me _____. • One thing I’m really good at is _____. • I can’t get enough of _____. • I spend a lot of time _____. • Most days I _____. • A favorite pastime of mine is _____. • My friends would tell you that _____.

7) Display their work, encouraging students to read and learn about their new classmates. Later, with older students, this type of information can be parlayed into opinion or argument writing. The writer uses associations and first hand experiences as a tool to build credibility in expressing an opinion about an issue. For example, in an editorial about the value of exercise, an athletic student might say: As a member of the town soccer league for the last five years, I’ve seen, firsthand, how plenty of cardio exercise keeps the body strong and the mind sharp. It also releases endorphins that keep my attitude positive.

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