Teacher Tip Tuesday

It’s Teacher Tip Tuesday!  At the risk of sounding redundant, I am once again going to share yet another tip from the Millersville Writing Institute.  Remember to save the date for the Institute next year: August 5th-August 9th, 2013.

I had the privilege of hearing Lisa Donohue share her wisdom and knowledge as a teacher, author, and learner.  She shared numerous strategies during the presentation from her book The Write Voice.  Please visit Lisa at Stenhouse Publishers or visit her blog.  You can also follow her on Twitter.  She would love to hear from you.  Thank you, Lisa, for allowing me share via my blog!

Today’s strategy can be used as a prewriting activity to a persuasive writing piece.  It is called Four Corners. Let’s give it a try!

  • First you need a topic with four categories.  For this example I am going to use social networking. ***Please note: This topic would be appropriate for high school students, but  I am not recommending it for younger students. Quite simply I am using this as the sample because I want you, my favorite blog reader, to connect to the topic and I want to get you thinking!***

Facebook    Google +    Pinterest   Twitter

  • Show the four categories on the overhead and assign each category a corner of the room. Then you are ready to pose the question.  The question for this prompt is: Of the four types of social networking, which one is the best platform for social networking?
  • Now have the students move to that corner of the room and allow them to talk about why they made that particular choice. Which corner would you walk run to? Why would you walk run to that corner?  What would you discuss with your friends?
  • After the discussion has concluded have the students return to their seat and jot down in their writer’s notebook what they talked about with their group.  A quick list will serve as the prewriting part of the persuasive piece. Maybe you even want them to Write to the X.
  • The lesson can be extended to a second day by having the students mingle with someone who was not in their original group and take on a debating format.  Once again, after the discussion has concluded allow the students to add to their writer’s notebook.
  • Since the students have had a chance to discuss and prewrite, they can now visit ReadWriteThink.org and complete the graphic organizer for a persuasive piece with the following prompt:  Some people believe Facebook is the best form of social networking while others believe it is Twitter, Pinterest, or Google +.  Write a persuasive piece to convince the reader what is the best platform for social networking.

The sample Lisa used with us was: Who is the most influential person of the 21st century?  We had to choose from Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, or President Obama.  And let me tell you, I was walking running to the corner with the fans of Steve Jobs.  And, once we all arrived in our corner, we were so ecstatic to talk about Steve Jobs as we peered over at the Mark Zuckerberg group just shaking our heads.

So what are some topics with categories you might use with your students? How about…

  • What is the best fast food restaurant? Wendy’s, McDonalds, Subway, Burger King
  • What gaming system is the most popular? Xbox, Wii, Playstation, Sony PSP
  • What is the all-time favorite Nickelodeon show: Spongebob, Jimmy Neutron, iCarly, The Fairly Odd Parents

Whatever topic you choose, connect it to what is relevant to your students, keep it light, and keep it fun. Then when the hardcore writing prompts arrive during state testing the students will have experienced success and feel confident as a writer!

Food for Thought:

What other topics and categories would be fun to use with the Four Corners activity? Could you use this strategy in math, science, or social studies? How might you modify this lesson to meet the needs of your students?

Happy Writing!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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