Jane Schaffer Writing for Beginners

Report
Jane Schaffer Writing for
Beginners
White River High School
English Department Presentation
3/28/08
The Prompt
Before writing anything a student must know
the assignment - clearly read the PROMPT.
Typical prompts ask students to…
 Respond to Literature
 Discuss what was learned in relation to a
specific topic - expository
 Persuade - Convince a reader to
believe/support a certain way of thinking
Get Ready to Color Your World!
THE BUILDING BLOCK OF WRITING How to write an effective paragraph
Materials: When we write using the Schaffer model
we use blue, black, red and green pens.
Blue is for Topic Sentences (TS)
Red is for Concrete Details (CD)
Green is for Commentary Sentences (CM)
Black is for Concluding Sentences (CS)
Step 1 - The Topic Sentence
The Topic Sentence (TS) is the top bun of the
hamburger
 The topic sentence is the first sentence of
the paragraph.
 It proclaims the main idea and contains an
opinion. Usually a mildly controversial
statement- something that you have to
prove. It can be as brief as three words.
Example Topic Sentence TS
In the fairy tale “The Three
Little Pigs,” the third pig was
very wise.
Step 2 - Concrete Details (CD)
Concrete Details (CD) are the meat of the hamburger
 CDs = Support for your TS. (facts, quotes, statistics,
examples, paraphrases etc. from the text or research.
 CDs can’t be argued with - a CD is evidence that supports
your point
 CDs can be direct quotes or paraphrased information
 CDs include the “stuff from the story, reading, article, etc.”
Example Concrete Detail (CD)
For example, he remembered his
mother’s warning about a wolf,
and built his house out of sturdy
brick.
Step 3: Commentary
Commentary Sentences (CM) are the hamburger’s “extras”
- the tomato, cheese, lettuce, pickle - they make it delicious!
CMs = your analysis, interpretation,
inferences, opinion, explanation or insight.
CMs = the “so what?”
CMs = the stuff from your head
Example Commentary Sentences
(2 CMs)
The frustrated wolf gave up extremely easily
after a half-hearted attempt to blow down
the sturdy and intimidating brick house.
This shows that the third pig was much
more intelligent than his brothers, who were
devoured by the wolf.
Step 4: Concluding Sentence
A Concluding Sentence (CS) is the bottom bun of
the hamburger
A CS wraps up the paragraph. It brings
the reader back to the original topic
without repeating the same words or
summarizing.
Example Concluding Sentence
(CS)
The third pig of the legendary
fable outsmarts not only his
brothers but the “big, bad” wolf
as well.
Putting it all together!
In the fairy tale “The Three Little Pigs,” the third pig
was very wise. For example, he remembered his mother’s
warning about a wolf and built his house out of sturdy brick.
The frustrated wolf gave up extremely easily after a halfhearted attempt to blow down the sturdy and intimidating
brick house. This shows that the third pig was much more
intelligent than his brothers, who were devoured by the wolf.
The third pig of the legendary fable outsmarts not only his
brothers but the “big bad” wolf as well.
That was a one chunk paragraph!
What is a chunk?
A combination of CDs and CMs is
called a chunk. A chunk is made up
of 3 sentences. In the sample we
created the stuff “between the buns”
makes up the chunk. It includes the
meat (red) and the extras (green).
A chunk can include different ratios of CD to
CM depending on the mode of writing
The ratio is the amount of CD:CM in a body
paragraph.
 The typical English class ratio is 1:2 for
response to literature and 2:1 for persuasive
or expository writing.
 A typical history ratio might be 2:1
 A typical Math/Science ratio is 3:0 or 2:1
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT RUBRIC FOR 1 CHUNK
PARAGRAPH WITH A 1:2 RATIO - SCORE OF 4
(located on share drive)
1-Chunk Body or Stand Alone Paragraph Assessment
EXCELLENT: 4
 Engaging and clear topic sentence (topic + opinion with
engaging word choice)
 Specific and relevant concrete detail #1(fact/example/
“stuff from the story”)
 Insightful commentary (goes beyond the obvious to
make a point/explain thoughts/feelings) [minimum of 2
CM for 1 CD]
 Powerful concluding sentence that communicates a
lesson/message/challenge
(no repetition)
As Student Writing becomes
more sophisticated what
happens?
Students move from a one chunk to
a two chunk paragraph
Students begin weaving
What is a two chunk paragraph?
A two chunk paragraph is an extension of the one
chunk paragraph. The student simply adds
another burger and more condiments. It looks like
this…
TS
CD
CM
CM
CD
CM
CM
CS
Chunk #1
Chunk #2
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT RUBRIC FOR 2 CHUNK
PARAGRAPH WITH A 1:2 RATIO - SCORE OF 4
(located on share drive)
2-Chunk Body or Stand Alone Paragraph Assessment
EXCELLENT: 4
 Engaging and clear topic sentence (topic + opinion with engaging
word choice)
 Specific and relevant concrete detail #1(fact/example/ “stuff from the
story”)
 Insightful commentary for CD #1 (goes beyond the obvious to make a
point/explain thoughts/feelings) [minimum of 2 CM for 1 CD]
 Specific and relevant concrete detail #2 (fact/example/ “stuff from the
story”)
 Insightful commentary for CD #2 (goes beyond the obvious to make a
point/explain thoughts/feelings) [minimum of 2 CM for 1 CD]
 Powerful concluding sentence that communicates a
lesson/message/challenge
(no repetition)
But isn’t this all a little formulaic?
 Yes, it is very formulaic. It provides
students the framework for communicating
their thoughts through writing. For many
students this is a necessity.
 The reason we selected Jane Schaffer is that
the ultimate goal of the writing program is
to move students who have mastered the
formula toward a more sophisticated style
called weaving.
What is Weaving?
Weaving is the goal of all writers. It
describes the ability to weave together CDs
and CMs while effectively communicating
ideas through writing. Writers that
effectively weave are aware of expected
ratios/balance AND can seamlessly put them
together in their writing. As a teacher it is
important that you recognize students who
effectively weave and allow them to do so.
Are our students weaving?
Some are….most aren’t. Why?
Many of our 9th students haven’t received specific
feedback about their writing (via rubric etc.)
Many of our 9th and 10th grade students are very
good at summarizing CD, but STRUGGLE with CM
Teachers have different expectations which is a
source of frustration for students - we don’t speak the
same language.
Students have trouble with organization - their
writing wanders. We ask them to master the structure
before allowing them to leave it.
Students who are weaving should know it! You can
ask them, in English class are you weaving?

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