Posts Tagged ‘scaffolding’

Scholarship Letter Writing Unit

Scholarship Letter Unit (c) Kristen Dembroski

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:

Scholarship Letter Unit (c) Kristen Dembroski

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!

Scholarship Letter Unit (c) Kristen Dembroski


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My Book

It’s finally finished! My first book 🙂

The Paper Chain: An Instructional Workbook for Argumentative Writing 

The Paper Chain Argumentative Writing (c) Kristen Dembroski


It is a 77-page exciting student-friendly instructional manual and workbook for writing an argumentative  paper – perfect for grades 7 – 10. This Common Core Aligned unit addresses writing, reading, and language. These are reading and writing techniques that can be used for cross-curricular writing in Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education… you name it! I have provided professional development at my school for these writing techniques, and the entire staff at my middle school now uses them. It’s great to be on the same page.

By using the instructional workbook, students learn how to read and write argument/persuasive papers step-by-step. The following topics are addressed:

* Argumentative Writing
* The Paper Chain: Overview
* Argument Writing: Flow Chart
* Practice Identifying the Argument
* Effective Argument (word choice)
* Practice Generating an Argument
* Generating your own Argument
* Practice Identifying Claims
* Claims and Supporting Evidence
* Generating Claims: Supporting the Argument
* Practice Identifying Evidence
* Organizing Evidence
* Claims and Supporting Evidence
* Quoting Evidence
* Credibility
* A Search for Evidence
* Collecting Evidence: Internet Search
* Is this Website Credible?
* Practice Determining Credible Evidence
* Homework: Find Your Own Evidence
* Counterclaim
* Adding a Counterclaim
* Deconstructing a Counterclaim
* Writing a Body Paragraph: Organization
* Reasoning / Links: Explaining Evidence
* The Whole Paper = A TERCon Sandwich
* Citing Sources: Avoiding Plagiarism
* Other Ways to Say ‘Said’
* Bibliography / Works Cited
* Peer Revising
* Peer Revising Sample
* Revision Checklist
* Rubric
* Model/Exemplar Paper
* How to get an Advanced Score
* Sentence Fluency: Appositives
* Why Appositives Are Important
* Appositives Practice
* Commonly Misspelled Words
* Editing Shortcuts and Practice
* Publishing
* Glossary
* Answer Key

My favorite part about the workbook is that it is filled with models, examples, and practice, as well as easy-to-follow visuals and charts. You can print out the manual as a hard copy workbook for students or – as I do in my one-to-one iPad school – email it to my students as an ebook to reference all year.

I am hoping to have this available on iTunes University soon! In the meantime, you can purchase a version from Teachers Pay Teachers here. Happy Teaching!

The Paper Chain (c) Kristen Dembroski

The Paper Chain (c) Kristen Dembroski

The Paper Chain (c) Kristen Dembroski

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