Thursday, February 25, 2016

Make Your Essay REEC

As part of my district's evaluation system, all teachers must write student learning objectives (SLOs).  In order to have data to support our SLOs, each teacher must administer a course pre and post test. Since my district has to calculate thousands of teachers' evaluation scores by May, we recently administered the course post test.  The social studies post test required the students to write a five paragraph essay and my students' teacher gleefully shared with me that all of the students in my class actually wrote five paragraphs.  When I mentioned this to my students, they happily stated that they incorporated the REEC (pronounced "wreak") method that I have been hammering home all year.

When I first started teaching extended writing this year, I noticed that my students wrote adequate introduction and closing paragraphs (with some peer support).  However, their body paragraphs were weak.  They lacked text evidence and very rarely did they connect the body paragraphs back to their thesis statement.  I actually reflect best while brushing my teeth and it was there that I came up with the REEC method to writing body paragraphs:
  • Respond to the question
  • Cite your text evidence 
  • Explain your evidence
  • Close out your paragraph

There are many acronyms out there for writing paragraphs.  However, this is works well for my students, mainly because REEC is fun for them to say.  While it seems like a small thing, it's made a big difference way down in the trenches.

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