Lesson Plan : Personal Essays

Teacher Name:
 Karen Booker
Grade:
 Grade 7-8
Subject:
 Language Arts

Topic:
 Examining the structure of Personal Essays to determine how to form a working thesis.
Content:
 Personal Essay: Thesis, Body, Evidence/Support, Introduction, Conclusion, Voice, Point of View, Personal Story/narrative, making connections with the reader, life lesson, message, conversational
Goals:
 (1 hour lesson) Students have already learned how to distinguish between three types of essays. In this lesson, they will examine the structure of a personal essay and try to determine a "general" thesis and structure that will guide them towards organization of a personal essay.
Materials:
 Overhead projector, markers and transparencies (blank and copies of essay and chart) Copies of essay for student Assigned homework reading (completed by students prior to lesson) T-Chart for mapping essay structure (what this essay has (content) --> what a personal essay might need (structure))
Introduction:
 (5 minutes) Teacher will introduce lesson and explain how we will use personal essays we have already read, as well as last night's homework, to examine the structure of a typical personal essay.
Development:
 (10 minutes) Teacher models how to examine the introduction. Using overhead and transparency of essay (homework), the teacher will highlight important parts, including (but not limited to) personal narrative, point of view, author's feelings or opinion on topic, and the thesis. Teacher will discuss with students how we might make this particular thesis fit a general formula for personal essays.
Practice:
 (5 minutes: Class Discussion) Class discusses ways to create a general thesis for this particular essay. Teacher records answers on overhead and gives suggestions when helpful. (20 minutes: Pair work) Students work in pairs to examine the structural contents of the same essay. They highlight important things they see such as voice, point of view, narrative, choronological time-lines, conflict, resolution, etc.
Checking For Understanding:
 (10 minutes: What did we find?) Students, guided by teacher, share what they discovered about the structure of the body of a personal essay. Teacher writes results on T-chart transparency. (10 minutes: Working together) Working together, students and teacher work through the conclusion, calling out important structural elements they see. Teacher marks up transparency of essay and then records findings on T-chart.
Closure:
 (5 minutes) Wrapping up. Assign homework: read one additional personal essay. Compare this essay, the one used today, and ones read in the previous unit and create a list of structural elements a personal essay MUST include and other things it CAN include (distribute essay and Must Have/Can Have T-chart)
Teacher Reflections:
 This lesson worked pretty well once the kids understood what they were supposed to do in pair work. As I walked around, after giving instructions, many of them asked what they were supposed to be doing. Perhaps I need to check to make sure they understand by having a student repeat the instructions back to me, although even then there will be someone not listening! Overall, students were able to create a good working list that they UNDERSTOOD about what characteristics they need to include if they are writing a personal essay.

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