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Panther Talks: Starting the Year with Authentic Writing

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Oct. 20, 2020, 2:58 p.m.

By Randi Anderson


For the first major writing project of the year, students are creating an argumentative essay inspired by Ted Talks. At the end of the projects, students will present their talks to a live audience. We've decided to call our argumentative talks “Panther Talk Days” (similar to a Ted Talk).


We started the unit by watching two powerful TedTalks, given by kids. The first one was given by an 8 year old, on why kids need more recess. The second one was on the power of reading. My students used both as a mentor text and broke apart the speaker’s claim and evidence to support. They then imitated this in their prewriting for their argumentative project.


The kids are feeling pretty PASSIONATE about their claims and supporting evidence. I model wrote for them to show how good writers use their pre-write to guide their draft.


After drafting, we focused on revising and giving/getting feedback from our audience using the “Writing with the Stars” game. We learned to self-assess our own writing using a rubric and then get feedback from potential audience members. Students are learning to use the success criteria on the rubric to guide and evaluate their writing. They are also learning how to function as a community of learners who give descriptive helpful feedback to their peers.


Our Panther Talks are coming up next week. My students have been so engaged. I've seen some pretty dramatic learning gains. They are keying in on the success criteria in order to meet the goal of convincing others to change their thinking.


As an 11 year veteran teacher, Randi Anderson is teaching 4th grade ELAR in Van Alstyne ISD this year. She has spent the last 6 years working as an instructional coach with schools across the U.S. Prior to this she taught third and fourth grade in the Fort Worth, Texas area. Be sure to follow her on Twitter @randinanderson or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Anderson-Adventures-in-4th-Grade-110838290747036



Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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