Currently, we are working on the Scholarship Letter unit. This is a 2-week unit on argumentation / persuasive writing in which the students apply for a fictional scholarship to attend a famous, world-renowned (yet fictional) high school. They choose their dream high school based on their interests. For example, there is a school for arts, sports, civil service, etc.
This is a very authentic, important unit to my students – they gain much needed practice with argumentative/persuasive writing, professional letter writing, and an opportunity to be reflective of their academic and personal goals. Our district’s guidance office always collects the scholarship letters and uses them for scheduling students in high school and directing them toward college applications. The students know this is an influential writing assignment, and the put a lot of thought and effort into it. I’ve been doing it for the past 6 years, and it’s one of my favorite writing units.
We spend about 2 weeks on this unit, proceeding slowly and carefully. Yesterday, we wrote body paragraph 1 together as a class, step by step. I explain the directions for each sentence/component, give students a chance to write, then we share – sentence by sentence for the entire paragraph (known in the teaching world as ‘scaffolding’). It’s definitely worth it to go slow. Below is a student’s work on body paragraph 1:
I have every student use the scaffolding for body paragraph 1, but only my writers who struggle with focus and organization receive scaffolding for the other 4 paragraphs. I create a packet for those students that has a scaffolding grid for each of the 5 paragraphs in the letter.
Tomorrow we will write body paragraphs 2 & 3, and Friday will be the introduction and conclusion. We will spend next week peer revising and editing, focusing especially on language and word choice. What’s most important at this stage is that students gain practice and confidence with the TELCon writing structure I use in my classroom. I can tell that the scaffolding is really improving their confidence and sense of self-efficacy when it comes to writing.
If you would like to purchase the Scholarship Letter unit to use in your classroom, click here!
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