Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.
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Background from OER Project Review Team
BetterLesson was founded by a group of teachers from Atlanta and Boston public schools to help educators create, organize, and share their curricula. CC BetterLesson is a new project from BetterLesson that has partnered with the National Educators Association to highlight best teaching practices around the Common Core from master teachers.
I think that with some effort and some patience anyone could get useful information from this unit of instruction. There are some practical instructional guides for doing research, evaluating sources, taking notes, writing outlines, writing a thesis statement, organizing an essay, creating transitions, following proper MLA format, etc. The videos of the teacher explaining his lessons could also be useful for a novice teacher. He does a good job of explaining and anticipating pitfalls as well as solutions.
Somewhat confusing lesson layout. The Better Lessons website is not the easiest site to navigate. - final rubric not found
Topics of research could have been better. The topics mentioned were things like "open campus", "cell phone use at school" etc. I would have preferred meatier topics that would have required more insight and analysis after careful research.
The landing place for the lesson should include the lesson overview. All of the student guides, evaluative devices, rubrics, etc. should be accessible from one page of the site.
This demonstration by a Master Teacher is suitable for a teacher training program or an in-service workshop. This is not a resource for students.
This unit provides instructional ideas to use with the following writing standards in grades 9/10: 1a-c, 4-9. There are some instructional supports along the way such as worksheets to help students draft, a CEL-Con (Main idea, explanation, link, conclusion) worksheet, and creating works cited pages. These supports can be used with other units on writing too. The focus of the unit appears to be on the process of writing and less on the final product as there is not an accompanying rubric to grade student work.
There are nine lessons each with a short (roughly 40-60 seconds) explanation of the lesson. If a teacher wants more, he/she can explore links to other websites that show explanations of specific lessons. For example, if a teacher wants a further explanation on working with students and thesis statements the link is provided.
In this unit a teacher will want access to a library and/or a computer lab for some of the lessons as students are required to complete research. The unit includes a works cited page lesson as the last lesson, which can be helpful in working with students and plagiarism issues.
A teacher may want to use some material in here as a portion of a unit on writing, but there are not many teaching strategies provided within the unit itself. For example, lesson six and seven on drafting is more about giving students time to draft in class.
9th and 10th grade teachers will get the most benefit from this unit. Students will have independent work time and will need access to a computer lab and library for research. It may also be ideal to combine this unit with texts you have read in class as this unit focuses on the writing standards.
Argumentative Writing versus Persuasive Writing - not enough of a requirement to use text-based evidence in the writing assignment
No rubric to grade student work
Not enough teaching strategies in working with students and their writing. Often the directions were for the teacher to check in with the students
Have a mini-lesson on using text-based evidence and what it means to write an argument
Provide a rubric that is aligned to the CCSS
Add possible teaching strategies to use during the research and drafting portions of the unit
Could be used as an integrated part of any unit where you wanted students to write an argumentative or research paper. Gives explicit directions on how to make citations, how to find materials/research for the papers, and how to peer review papers. Videos to explain the processes are also included to assist teachers with the process.
This did not align to any of the reading specific standards as the focus of this lesson was on writing only; it did a fine job of explicitly taking students through the process of writing a thesis, citing evidence, conducting the research and note-taking, peer reviewing papers, and writing the rough draft.
Explicit rubrics and or guidelines for peer review and editing
Checklists for citations of evidence
Clearly cited standards
Limited scope to argumentative paper
Videos to lead teachers through some of the steps
Documents are available for download for teachers
Gives practical advice for teachers about how to 'do these steps' for writing a persuasive paper
No final rubric included for finished papers. Does not show completion of writing and argumentative paper; goes through peer editing and revision only
Technical problems did not allow me to view all the videos as they simply would not all play
Add steps to include final papers and include scoring rubrics and student example papers