The purpose of this first Benchmark Assessment (Cold Write) is to determine what students already know about informational writing. Students will respond to a writing prompt, and you will score results as a measure of early work. Students will also discuss what makes an excellent argument and presentation, and they will develop the key parts of their argument with their group.
- Read the lesson and student content.
- Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
- Familiarize yourself with the writing prompt and the scoring guide.
- If you have students on an IEP or other accommodations, check to see whether they receive extended time or need an alternative test setting. Work with the professional supporting SWDs to make sure student needs are met.
- Prepare activities for students who finish early.
Task 1: Informational Writing
Provide 3 minutes for students to complete a Quick Write.
Have students share what they already know about informational writing.
In the next task, students will take the assessment. Be prepared to do the following:
✓ Answer any questions that are not of a substantive nature, providing no additional guidance about the prompt.
✓ Do a quick thumbs-up/thumbs-down check to ensure that students understand the prompt and are ready to begin writing. Remind students that they will have only 20 minutes to write.
✓ Tell students to begin working. When the allotted time has elapsed, tell students to stop working.
✓ If students finish before time is up, direct them to other activities.
Write a brief response to this question.
- What do you already know about informational writing?
Write and share what you know with the class.
Task 2: Benchmark (Cold Write): Informational
- Direct students to take the assessment. They will be responding to the following prompt:
- ✓ Think about all the various things you have learned in your school career.
- Pick one thing that you know a good deal about and that you think is significant. Assume that what you write will be evaluated on the following:
- − How important what you’ve chosen as a topic really is, and
- − How well you explain or tell about the thing.
- After class, assess each student’s informational piece. Students will have opportunities to write informational texts throughout the year during which they will have instruction on how to revise and edit their pieces. The information you gain from scoring this benchmark piece of writing will guide you in tailoring your writing instruction to individual student needs.
- If students finish before time is up, direct them to other activities.
Now you will write your informational piece. Remember that an informational piece is a text that gives facts and information about a topic. It can also be writing that explains something.
You will have 20 minutes to write your informational piece.
- Write a brief informational piece in response to the prompt.
Task 3: Reflection on Presentations
Remind students that all their hard work developing strategies will only pay off if their presentation is effective.
- ELL: Make sure ELLs understand what is meant by the terms strategies and qualities.
Based on the work you have done so far and on your own experience, create two lists.
- What do you think are key strategies to convince people?
- What do you think are key qualities of a convincing presentation?
Task 4: Strategies and Arguments Share
- Responses for strategies might include such things as “anticipate what opponents might say” or “back up your claims with evidence.”
- Responses for qualities might include “using visuals or audio to enhance your argument,” “make eye contact when speaking,” “appeal directly to your audience,” or “make it personal.”
- Record responses in a central location, perhaps on the board.
Share your responses with your classmates to compile a class list.
- Listen as your classmates share their ideas, and make a note of any ideas you may have missed.
Task 5: Criteria for Excellence
Work with your students to develop a rubric or list of criteria to evaluate presentations. Keep the list between five to eight specific categories, and push your students to identify specifically how to tell if a presentation meets the criteria.
- SWD: Some students with disabilities may have difficulty identifying criteria to add to the rubric. Offer students an “idea bank” to choose from that includes different skills that students will be expected to demonstrate when they make their presentations.
This is a good opportunity to remind students that criteria is a plural noun and the singular form is criterion.
With your teacher, develop a list of “criteria for excellence” to evaluate group presentations.
Task 6: Group Argument Planning
Circulate as groups work. They should have the key parts of their argument planned by the end of this lesson, as they will need all their time in the next two lessons to create their presentations.
- ELL: Be sure all students are clear about the instructions before starting. Monitor that ELLs know what is expected of them in this planning session, and encourage them to participate actively within their groups.
- SWD: Some students with disabilities may need to verbally express themselves first to help them clarify their ideas. Others may be able to plan, but may need help in getting their ideas down on paper, so they could use text-to-speech. Students should leave the Work Time with one set of actions on their planning sheet so they have a clear plan for writing.
With your group, use the Argument Development Organizer to flesh out the key parts of your presentation.
You may want to split up the tasks on the organizer to complete them in a timely way.
Task 7: Character Slogan
Provide the class with a couple of examples of effective slogans.
- With your group, create a slogan for your character’s vision of the American Dream.
- Think of advertising slogans you know to get started.
- Your slogan should be about three to six words long and should capture the essence of your message in a catchy way.
Task 8: Independent Work
Ask students to write an entry about a character in their book.
Continue reading your Independent Reading book and completing your Dialectical Journal entries.