Fun with Text Structure: Paragraph Scramble Competition

About a month ago, I wrote about some rather sophisticated work my honors 12th ELA students did with deconstructing mentor texts.  However, not all students are ready to take on such a task.  How might you scaffold those learners and give them the experience but on a smaller scale and in a way that is more accessible?

Though I provided a mini-lesson and two models for us to examine together, I realized this morning three sections of my 11th Language Arts were struggling with a modified Schaffer Two Chunk paragraph writing strategy. I quickly punted midday and came up with a modified activity to support students and give them an opportunity to practice recognizing topic sentences, concrete details, commentary sentences, and closing sentences.

After reviewing our template and one of the completed models, each table group received a series of sentences and a blank paragraph template.  Students at each table group were asked to work together and fill in the template with the appropriate sentence (topic sentence, concrete detail, commentary, closing sentence).  Each team immediately began working together to problem solve the text structure.  For fun, I played the Rocky theme song as groups worked together.  It was fun to listen to students debate the choices and argue with each other about why a certain sentence was the best fit!  When each team finished, they gave me their answer sheet; when all teams finished, we reviewed and discussed the answers together.

While this activity is very simple, it is a great way to engage students, especially if they love games.  It is a gentler way of students looking at text structure in a way that is approachable and encourages student talk.   As you can see from the video below, the energy level was high and lively!

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