Lesson: "My Ideal Group of Four" Essay

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: Descriptive Writing

Instructional Level: Middle School

Skills: Descriptive Writing

Time: Two weeks -- 1 day for introduction, 2-3 days for in-class drafting, 1 day for peer editing, 1 for voluntary presentations

Materials: Journals, writing implements, printer paper, access to computers, access to printer

Objectives: The student will be able to describe a meeting with 3 people of their choice in grade-level paragraphs. The student will be able to compose a written piece using grade-level grammar/spelling conventions and style expectations.

Introduction: This lesson is an extension of an earlier idea: the If I Could Meet..." essay. To introduce it, I will ask my students to select three people they would like to meet if they had the opportunity. I could give the examples of the ideal set of three dinner companions, the dream golf foursome, the ideal card game, or some other activity or event where the students could bring together three people they find interesting, important, or impressive to explain the task. When the actual lesson is introduced, the students will be given the following guidelines:
They will choose three people to spend a day with if given the chance. The persons could be living or deceased.
The student will say why they want to meet those three persons and say what their subjects do or have done that is impressive or important to the student.
The meeting has to be a positive, platonic encounter for everyone involved. It can be based around a meal or some teacher-approved activity.
The student will describe what they and their subjects would do in a day together, how the subjects will interact with each other, what they might talk about, and how the meeting would affect them.
The students have to write at least three grade-level paragraphs, or no more than a page, about meeting their subjects. (This could be increased to more, depending on what you want to do)

Procedure: The students will be given time in class to either build upon their earlier journal entry about who they wish to meet, or to make a new selection and begin their rough drafts. They have to adhere to the requirements listed above. In the first paragraph, they have to identify 3 people, living or deceased, they would like to meet. They need to describe why they want to meet them and say what their subjects do or have done that is important or impressive in their eyes. The second and third paragraphs will tell about what the student and their persons of choice will do in a day together. They will write about how they think the subjects will interact with each other. The students will write about where their group will go, what they might talk about, how the day would end, and conclude with the feelings they might experience during the day. The students will be given class periods to compose their rough drafts and to allow their peers to edit their work. Students will also submit their drafts to me so I can offer advice and make sure they are on task. The timeline from introduction to completion will stretch over two weeks.

Closure/Modifications: Volunteers will be given the opportunity to share their final products in class. Modifications for this assignment could include altering the length requirements, allowing for teacher or peer editing throughout the entire process, allowing the use of a dictation program or scribe, and dividing the assignment into manageable parts.

Assessment: The essays will be graded for adherence to the lesson requirements (length and content) and to grade-level writing conventions of grammar, spelling and style. A rubric might be useful as part of this assessment process.

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