Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Starting the Year with Persuasive Writing

What makes a classroom community strong?  How can students and teachers work together at the start of the year to build a classroom community?  I decided to combine the beginning year's writing genre focus, persuasive writing, with the classroom goal of building a happy, caring, engaging, and successful classroom community.

Each student in the class will be asked to propose one activity, event, routine, structure, or material to make our classroom a wonderful community.  Students will follow these steps to make their proposal:
  1. Brainstorm ideas with the class.
  2. Each child will choose one idea that he/she feels strongly about.
  3. Each child will brainstorm reasons why his/her idea is a good idea.
  4. Students will gather evidence and examples related to their proposal. 
  5. Students will draft persuasive essays to convince the class that the proposals are ones that we should adopt.
  6. Students will read, edit, and revise each other's essays.
  7. Students will read their proposals to the class, and perhaps make an online version as well using PhotoBooth or iMovie. 
  8. The class will decide which proposals to adopt, and which ones to put in the "parking lot" for more consideration.
If I'm asking students to do this, I thought I'd take a first crack at the assignment. Hence, I've drafted my classroom community proposal below. At the start of the year, I'll read my proposal to the students, and let them give me editing tips. In the meantime, I may return to this post to do a bit of editing myself. Feel free to send me your ideas and considerations as well.


Vote Yes!
 Friday Picnics!
Ms. Devlin, 2013

Every class needs time and space to relax, be together, and have fun--noisy, happy fun, not quiet, sit-in-your-seat, restricted fun.  Friday picnics offer a great way for our class to eat together on our large, green, grassy playground.

Every other day students have to eat in the cafeteria. The cafeteria is a good place to sit with your friends, talk, and eat lunch, but the small, rectangular cafe is not as free and fun as the baseball-field size playground.  In the cafeteria, you have to stay seated on your hard plastic chairs until the lunch monitor says you can stand up, but on the playground you can get up from the soft grassy, blanketed picnic spot whenever you want.  Further, you may only talk with quiet voices in the lunchroom, but on the playground you may holler, shout, sing, and laugh as loud as you want.  When you're in the cafeteria, there's no chance at any extra recess, but out on the playground if you finish your lunch early, you have a few minutes of extra recess to play with your friends.  More play, no need to be quiet, and getting up whenever you want are three good reasons why Friday picnics are a positive change from the usual cafeteria lunch.

At Friday picnics you get to relax with the teachers too. Typically teachers eat in the classrooms or the teacher's room, but during Friday picnics you're able to stretch out on a blanket and eat with your teachers. Teachers are very relaxed during Friday picnics because there's hardly any rules to enforce, and it is not a time when they have to teach. Therefore they have the time to talk to you, listen to your stories and questions, and perhaps even play a game or two.  That's another good reason for Friday picnics.

The Friday picnic is like a celebration, and celebrations are great at the end of the week. After a long week of doing your best, the Friday picnic is like the frosting on the cake--sweet and delicious. Sweet because you're with your friends, and delicious because you're eating your lunch outside.  Friday picnics are a bit of a celebration for the lunch room monitors too.  They work hard all week encouraging students to follow the rules, clean up, and use quiet voices, but on Fridays when most students are picnicking outside, they get a big break--less kids, less lunches, and best of all, less clean up!  So Friday picnics are a gift to the cafeteria staff too.

I propose that our class, Team 15, has a Friday picnic every good-weather Friday this year. The Friday picnic fun will help to make our class a happy, close-knit, caring community.  Do you agree? If so, when it comes time to vote for our community routines, please vote for the Friday Picnic.  I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Helpful Links:
Persuasive Writing Strategies
More Strategies
Wikipedia Persuasive Writing
What is an anecdote?
LearnZillion Anecdote?