Personal Essays (Part 2)

I'm back from a little break from blogging! I forced myself to take a much needed break from everything teaching related so I could spend more time with family and check some things off my wedding planning list! I'm happy to say I was productive so now I'm back!

I wanted to share more on my previous Personal Essay post that I started HERE. My students were able to finish publishing these before our winter break started and I'm happy to say that it is still their favorite unit!

So after we organized our thesis statements and reasons onto the blue organizational folders which I explained in the previous post, we took out the evidence we had collected in each folder. We decided which pieces of evidence to keep and which were not needed. We pasted them onto the now open blue folders into an order that made sense. Here is a rough draft…

This is an example of a rough draft that we started editing but of course this isn't the published piece. You can see we turned our boxes and bullets into topic sentences.

We did this for each blue folder and ended up with a long strip which included our intro, three reason paragraphs, and our conclusion.

This made it very easy to revise, edit, and publish our final draft!

Here's an example of a published essay..

Now that we've completed this unit, the students are very familiar with the structure of a five paragraph essay! This will make starting our response to literature unit when we get back SO much easier!

I have a personal essay rubric posted in my store here for $1.00 if you are interested in this unit! I'd love to hear from you if you've done this or something similar!

Personal Essays

We are in the middle of our personal essay unit right now so I thought I'd share what we have been working on. Teaching a unit on personal essays is a fun way to teach students the structure of a five paragraph essay. They write about a topic that they already know about so no extra research is involved. We spent some time collecting ideas for what we could use as our thesis. We spent about a week in the "collecting" phase. This was all done in our writer's notebooks. Once students have their idea/thesis, they come up with three reasons to support it.

A neat way to organize their "evidence" for each of their ideas is by using folders. I give each student  colored folders, one for each of their reasons.

We spend one day collecting evidence on each of these reasons. The evidence is collected on lined paper, cut, and placed into the appropriate folder. Once they have a good amount of evidence, I spend a day on the introduction and another on the conclusion. The students have their folders next to them as they are writing these so it is very easy for them to restate their thesis and reasons in each.

This is where we are so far in our unit! Our next phase will be determining what evidence we should use and pasting it on the outside of the appropriate folder. Our finished product in our planning phase ends up looking like a long strip of folders, but with each of the five paragraphs organized in order. 

So far my students LOVE this unit! Their thesis statements are hilarious! I'm seeing everything from "Dogs make great pets" to "Siblings can be annoying". As long as they can come up with their three supporting reasons, it is an acceptable thesis!

Does anyone else use the personal essay unit to teach essay structure? I'd love to hear about it if you do! I will post more once we complete the unit!

A Giveaway!

I can't believe I've reached over 50 followers! I began blogging not knowing where it would take me and I'm absolutely thrilled I did! I've become a better teacher and I love all of the feedback and comments from all of my wonderful followers!

As a thank you, I'm having a giveaway! The first two followers to comment can choose anything they'd like from my store! Just be sure to tell me what you'd like and send me your email!

If you are still looking for some fun holiday activities, you might be interested in my holiday centers.

My math centers that include 60 task cards are appropriate for grades 4-5.

My holiday writing center pack is appropriate for grades 3-5.

I've also bundled these together though (for a cheaper price) in my store too!

Feel free though to choose ANY item from my store for the giveaway!

Thanks again for helping me reach 50 followers!!!

Have a great weekend!

December Currently

I was just saying yesterday that I can't believe December is here! I guess it's official now that I've done Farley's December Currently…

My goal was to be super productive today. I'm clearly procrastinating by watching TV and blogging. 

December sure snuck up on me! I need to get back into my regular gym routine since these engagement photos are happening soon and I'm so not ready! (By the way, thanks to all my sweet blog followers for all of the wedding wishes you've left me! I appreciate all of your kind words! :) ) Today was day one of my new plan…and I made it to the gym this morning. I'm hoping I can keep this going. I probably shouldn't have set that goal the week before parent conferences.

I'm loving my new holiday scented candle from Bath and Body Works. I went a little crazy there on Black Friday but I ended up finding some deals on gifts there for my wonderful parent volunteers. Does anyone else give their volunteers gifts at the holidays? If so, what have you given? Sometimes I get creative and find cute little mugs to fill with goodies but this year I'm taking the easy route!

Happy December everyone! Time for me to get back to that list!