Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Basic Paragraph Structure (A Systematic Introduction to Embedding Quotes)

Hey there, everyone! It's Taliena from Koch's Odds 'N Ends and I'm here to share with you how I introduce students to embedding quotes. I don't know about you, but the curriculum I teach asks my students to not only embed quotes into their writing but to be doing so flawlessly for our big research paper that we do in December. I'm tasked with the overwhelming responsibility to teach them this skill from the ground up. I have found that the easiest way to do this is to first teach it as a systematic formula.

I usually begin by having my students paste the notes handout below into their notebooks to use as a reference as we practice.
This notes handout is a freebie on my TeacherspayTeachers store!

Topic Sentence- the main idea of the paragraph (I like to point out to students that this isn't new. A topic sentence is still a topic sentence)
Evidence- specific examples (proof) from the text that help develop the main idea from the topic sentence
Commentary- sentences that explain and develop the ideas from the evidence and main idea (I like to use sports commentators as a way to help explain what commentary is. I ask what a commentator does and draw similarities to help define this new word)
Concluding Sentence- the very last sentence of the paragraph that should be thought-provoking and should summarize the main points of the article (once again, I like to point out that this idea isn't new. A concluding sentence is still a concluding sentence)

When teaching a brand new topic, I like to demonstrate first, practice together as a class second, and then have students practice individually last (I do, We do, You do Method). Thusly, I choose three non fiction articles from my favorite non-fiction article website (NewsELA). With the first article, a fairly simple prompt, and the notes handout mentioned earlier, I write an example paragraph using the T.E.C.C. formula. I show this article after going over the notes handout to show examples of what each box's content should look like. Next, and with the second article, I write a paragraph with my class using the formula they have seen twice now (once in their notes and again in my example paragraph). And, with the third article, I have students practice the formula on their own.

Now, I don't usually teach writing in such a formulaic way, but because this is the first time most of my students have even heard the term "embedded quotes", let alone attempted to effectively use them, I have found that this is a great foundation or jumping off point. Middle school students crave that structure as a reassuring "pat on the back" that lets them know they are completing this new task correctly. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Let me know if you've tried this method or something else!

See you next month,

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