This PowerPoint lesson can be accomplished in one period, but you'll want to use the ideas over and over which will drastically increase your students' paragraph writing skills. The 16-slide PPT shows students how to write a paragraph using a photo prompt. Students are given a model paragraph and are taught how to do a basic evaluation of a paragraph. Then they are shown a weaker paragraph to evaluate on their own followed by an example of how a teacher would evaluate it, so they can see how they did.
That is the basic lesson, but to reinforce it, I use the paragraph writing as a sponge activity for the first ten minutes of class. I have a picture projecting on the white board as students arrive, and they know to write a well-developed paragraph about the picture. The Smithsonian website has a photo tab at the top of the page, so I can show a different picture each day.
"Tell me what you're going to tell me. Tell me! Then, tell me what you told me." What a fun way to help them remember to include topic and concluding sentences!
Students can write paragraphs on the even days and then trade them for evaluation on the odd days. It takes some time for me to evaluate how the students evaluated each other, but the work pays off in several ways. Once the students understand basic content evaluation, their evaluating each other saves you time! But more importantly, when students understand how to evaluate a peer's work, amazingly their own writing improves because they grasp the "formula" of paragraph writing, the well-developed organization.
This activity takes time for repetition, but it sure pays off when students become more comfortable with paragraphs and the writing agony decreases!
When you see improved writing, kiss a spider for me! Hee, hee!
(The centering on the previews is a bit off, but they are fine on the download. I tried modifying the PPT, but that didn't help. Call me technologically challenged!)