With the right amount of guidance, a high-interest topic, modeling, and authentic feedback from the teacher, students produce an impressive five-paragraph research paper. And we don’t torture them! They will love their topic and will enjoy these few classes together. They learn the steps of research: how to get organized, ask research questions, search smart to find resources online, read informational texts, and take notes so that they avoid plagiarism. Then they learn to synthesize it all together into a research essay with a bibliography page. A special emphasis is placed on learning elaboration techniques. They go through the pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing stages of the writing process. The final products students write as a result of this process honestly blow me away. They are so capable when they get step-by-step instructions and are given the proper support! The price of this class includes out-of-class editing and feedback from the teacher.
Day 1: Students learn the steps of research, how to be organized, choose a topic, and how to search smart to find resources. For homework, they find their resources and read them. They are guided to find kid-friendly resources, and the teacher gives them one of their three articles.
Day 2: Students learn how to read their articles, annotate them, and then take notes in a way to avoid plagiarism. Finally, they learn how to paraphrase a nonfiction article. For homework, they write a paraphrase of each of their three articles.
Day 3: Students learn how to take their paraphrases and turn them into body paragraphs. On this day, they learn different elaboration techniques to expand on what they have already written. They also learn to use Google Docs; however, they do not need a Google account. The teacher will provide them with a link for them to use. For homework, they revise their body paragraphs with the elaboration techniques they learned.
Day 4: Students learn how to write the introduction and conclusion, and they do it in class with teacher guidance and support. They learn how to hook their reader, how to write a thesis statement, and how to bridge the gap between the hook and thesis. In the conclusion, they learn to restate their thesis and each of their main ideas, but in a unique way. Then they leave their reader thinking with final words. Last, they learn to create a separate bibliography page and how to revise and edit their entire essay. For homework, they fine-tune their essay and turn it in for final teacher feedback.
The Way We Roll – #TheLemons-AidWay
Student Motivation & Accountability–We use “workshop time” so students will write while the teacher “visits” them on their Google Document. The immediacy of the feedback/revision cycle with the instructor helps writers improve rapidly. Additionally, once we started using this method, we saw nearly a 100% completion rate in student essays!
Explicit Teaching–Students desperately need this method of instruction, but it is tragically missing in schools across the country! Instead of leaving students to magically figure out how to write an essay, we teach explicitly, a method backed by decades of scientific evidence for its effectiveness. It’s how Mrs. Lemons teaches her undergraduate and graduate teacher candidates in college to teach! We do it this way because it’s how kids learn. Explicit instruction is “a structured, systematic, and effective methodology for teaching academic skills. It is called explicit because it is an unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures. Explicit instruction is characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved.”
-Explicit Teaching: Effective & Efficient Teaching by Anita L. Archer and Charles A. Hughes.
Anita Archer trained Mrs. Lemons in workshops, and it changed her teaching. All Lemons-Aid courses follow this philosophy in the form of I DO, WE DO, YOU DO. We move students forward toward mastery of skills.
Homework–Students can expect to have homework after each live class. They will work 15-45 minutes, depending on the assignment and how quickly they work. Students receive authentic and constructive feedback from the instructor that helps students correct their mistakes and fine-tune their skills. We integrate grammar in all aspects of instruction, and we hold students to a high standard of academic writing. We achieve this through daily mini-lessons and practice with sentence writing and using various sentence starters.
Graphic Organizers–Students need graphic organizers to help them see the structure of a paragraph or essay and the writing process. This is how they learn to develop coherent ideas. They don’t figure out how to do this magically; the graphic organizers and the intentional, explicit teaching help them learn the skills!
Student Mastery–Each class includes explicit, direct instruction with teacher modeling. Students are guided toward mastery of multiple writing skills and understandings so that they grasp the concepts and become independent. Students are held to a high standard of academic writing, including the use of grammar and the construction of sophisticated sentences.
Teacher Feedback–The back-and-forth work between a student and teacher significantly benefits a student if done well. We follow best practices in designing class time, assignments, and routines. According to Pennington Publishing, effective writing feedback (or grading) is:
• Specific, not general
• Immediate, not postponed
• Routine with a revision / feedback cycle
• The right amount
• Targeted to the most critical issues
• Varied (written, audio, and video comments)
• Holding students accountable