A common struggle for students when incorporating text evidence into their arguments is they choose quotes that are too long. Then the piece becomes dominated by a voice other than the author’s. It’s important to strike a balance between one’s own voice and that or the article quoted. In argument writing, the author should highlight his or her opinions and reasoning. A good rule of thumb is that the evidence should only be about 5-10% of the piece.
To help students strike this balance, I put together a small group titled, “Allowing Your Writing to Shine”
At the start of the small group, I began by sharing the teaching point:
Then I showed students my first try with the original text evidence/ quote highlighted. This allowed students to see just how quote heavy my original work was. Next I modeled how I reread to pull out and focus on only the key portions of the quote. Right in front of students, I used a sharpie to strike out the extraneous parts of the quote– all the while demonstrating my thinking process. Finally, I unveiled my newly revised second try, which portrays a much better balance between my voice and the quote.
After my demo, I had students point to a paragraph in their own writing piece where they felt text evidence outweighed their voice; and right in front of me, they began the work that I just modeled. While they did this, I coached into their work. Finally releasing the students when they seemed to get the hang of it.
I shared a teaching chart to help students visualize this strategy:
So in my kit, I house all pieces of the lesson in a sheet protector, which I then keep in a binder that I carry with me around the room. The writing samples always stay the same. I pull out “clean” versions each time I need to teach the lesson, and I make the same teaching moves.
Try this out in your room. Let me know how it goes! 🙂
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