This week, with only three week left in school, I've introduced a concept to my sixth-grade science class that is quite remarkable. I'm requiring their oral responses to class questions to be given in full paragraphs with complete sentences and punctuation. Five sentences.
WHAT? Yes, you read this right. Five sentences for each answer. A topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a concluding sentence. Oral paragraph writing.
Here's what we did:
After our long unit on the scientific method which ended with our science fair, we are devoting the last weeks of school on careers in science. Every day this week we focused on one specific career. I used Career Cruising to investigate five different careers in the "science cluster". Each day I introduced a new career and a new aspect of oral writing.
Monday: Crime Scene Investigators
Students spend several rounds of Teach-OK's learning about what a CSI does, where they work, how you can become one, and what attributes/qualities a good CSI has. I created this prezi to guide the process.
Students then had to answer specific questions using oral writing (same questions each day).
Question 1: What is a CSI?
Students do a Teach-Ok to answer this question.
Teach the gestures for capital letter (place one hand on top of the other and the stretch it up high), for a period (push your hand out forward and say "eeert" to sound like a car's screeching), and for a comma (swing your hand down to make a comma in the air while saying "zoop").
Teach OK again using these gestures.
Call on 2-3 students to share their answer with the class using a Class-Yes and Mirror-Words.
Question 2: Would you like to be a CSI?
Students do a Teach-OK to answer this question using the capital letter and period gestures.
Teach students about a detail adder - rolling one finger around the other, adding detail to the answer in a complete sentence. Students must then add one detail sentence to their answer. This makes a two sentence answer with gestures.
Tuesday: Computer Software Engineer
Same process as above. This video shows the wonder of this career in an amazing way.
This time you build students up to using two detail adders for a three sentence answer. Explain that both details should add information about the target word. The target word is the most important word in the topic sentence.
Wednesday: Food Scientist
Same process as above, introducing aspects of this career using Teach-Ok intervals.
This time, add one more detail adder, for a total of four sentences. Review the idea of the target word, and review/introduce the Because Clapper and Example Popper.
Thursday: Civil Engineer
Again, repeat the process of Teach-OK intervals to teach the basics of this career. This time add a "concluder". Concluders start with "To sum up," or "In conclusion," and then switches around the ideas in the topic sentence. Adding the concluder makes a five sentence paragraph!
Friday: Review of careers, and practice in speaking oral paragraphs to various questions related to career paths.
Here's an example of an oral paragraph that a student would say to the class:
I would like to be a computer software engineer. It would be very interesting to create new apps and video games. Many colleges have programs to become a software engineer. For example. the University of Illinois has a Bachelor's program and Northwestern has a Master's degree program. In conclusion, a software engineer is a career that I would enjoy having.