Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Going for the Gold: The Triple Gold Sentence

What is the simplest way for kids to write at the most complex level? …THE TRIPLE GOLDER! 
With all of the different writing standards our students must meet AND the endless writing rules, there are SO many ways for their writing to go right off the deep end! The Triple Golder is a scaffolded topic sentence frame that has students select three DIFFERENT subjects that each lead into their own paragraph. It sounds like the typical five paragraph formula, however when paired with The Genius Ladder, Oral Writing and the use of CLINKERS, the Triple Gold Sentence will help students PRACTICE writing in an organized, college level approach.
The timing of this webcast could not have come at a better time! Last week I created a Power Pix that has helped my students memorize the organization of the 5 paragraph essay.  (A 5 paragraph essay begins with an INTRODUCTION, the 2nd paragraph is about the FIRST reason, the 3rd paragraph is the SECOND reason…etc)
While the Power Pix gestures helped a great deal in organizing their essays, the problem truly was the lack of PRACTICE I’d given my students in creating THREE VERY DIFFERENT EXAMPLES!  I thought I had done enough by using a clear outline, modeling ideas that were very different, modeling ideas that were too similar and having students refer to the Power Pix gestures when writing independently. Judging by the student work I received, clearly it was not sufficient. This is a topic sentence a student wrote:
 “ My largest goal in my life is to become a doctor. I will do this in three ways, by going to school every day and not being absent, going to school and trying my best, and not dropping out of school.”
The remainder of this student’s essay seemed to blur around the one simple idea of” going to school”. A lot of students shared this problem, and it was MY fault. Instead, I should've started with basic sentence frames and given students proper practice in choosing three, diverse examples.  The missing component was simply PRACTICE! The essay writing process cannot be fully grasped in a measly  week of instruction and practice. I believe I got so excited by the sudden improvement in their writing that I got ahead of myself. After watching the webcast yesterday, I approached writing very differently today.

This morning, the bottom rung of my Genius Ladder looked like this:
My favorite food is___________ because ___________, _____________, and __________.
For the majority of the time, this sentence frame is ALL we used.   After explaining the CLINKER, we used oral writing to fill in the blanks REPEATEDLY!  I loved having a word designed to alert students of ideas that are TOO SIMILAR!  My class was introduced to The Trickster sock puppet, and they loved declaring “CLINKER” in unison, when The Trickster purposely gave examples that were practically the same, such as: “My favorite food is pizza because it is yummy, delicious and tastes so good!”  We improved on this CLINKER sentence to create a Triple Gold Sentence:  “My favorite food is pizza because you can eat it with your hands, you can choose a variety of toppings, and it is greasy.”
 The students had a blast orally creating paragraphs based on these three ideas, that went on to include adders about licking sauce off their fingers, eating salty anchovies, and the joys of blotting the grease off their pizza with a napkin. Anytime an adder was off topic, we'd do the bungie jump off of our arm!  Before we knew it, we had orally created a five paragraph essay!
Was the content of the writing curriculum based? NO, however the golden thread of fun disguised the fact that students were using critical thinking to “triple think” about what they were saying, how it fit into what they had previously said, and how it would fit into what came next.  This is a very difficult skill to master, and with continued PRACTICE I hope to get them to the point where writing five paragraph essays are as easy as unfolding origami!

Webcast 542

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