Impact Insights

Argumentative writing skills improve as the school year ends

Lana’s High-Impact Tutoring participants see improvements in their argumentative writing skills at Theodore Roosevelt High School.

This semester, Lana’s High-Impact Tutong (HIT) participants are working hard to finish assignments by the end of the school year. English language arts (ELA) students are focusing on their argumentative writing skills at Theodore Roosevelt High School. Throughout the month of May, students have been workshopping an argumentative essay on a topic of their choice. This essay will be the last major grade before summer break.

Attendance and Grades

As we near the end of the school year, attendance continues to be a challenge. ELA attendance has dropped from 83% in April to 64% in May, while math attendance has stayed consistent with 100% attendance in HIT tutoring sessions. However, due to DC CAPE testing, the number of sessions available for students was less than a “normal” month due to the mandatory exam. 

We continue to track student grades to ensure the most success in the HIT program at Roosevelt High School, and currently 92% of students who consistently attend tutoring sessions in ELA have either improved by a whole letter grade, or have remained consistent with either an A or a B. We are looking forward to continuing to see student success rates through the remainder of the school year. 

Students explore topics like the U.S. education system.

Writing Skills

As mentioned above, students are working on their last essay for the school year. Some topics that students are focusing on include education in the U.S., the U.S. justice system, and climate change. To support students during this process, we have built upon the writing skills learned thus far in the school year. However, the main difference with this month-long assignment is the knowledge of researching. Students are learning how to find sources for their essays, and what makes a good source to support an argument. In addition, students are learning how to annotate and analyze texts to utilize in their argumentative writing. 

Skills that I am focusing on with students during this process include: 

1. Understanding the Prompt

Teach students to carefully read and understand the essay prompt or question. Highlight key terms and instructions to ensure they focus their research appropriately.

2. Identifying Reliable Sources

Emphasize the importance of peer-reviewed articles, academic journals, reputable websites, and books from established authors.

3. Utilizing Library Resources

Familiarize students with library resources such as online databases, catalogs, and academic journals. Teach them how to navigate these resources effectively to find relevant information.

4. Effective Search Strategies:

Teach students how to use search engines efficiently by employing advanced search operators, using quotation marks for exact phrases, and refining search terms based on results.

5. Evaluating Sources

Teach students to critically evaluate sources for relevance, reliability, credibility, and bias. Encourage them to consider the author’s credentials, publication date, supporting evidence, and potential conflicts of interest.

6. Note-Taking Skills

Guide students in developing effective note-taking techniques to summarize key points, quotes, and ideas from their research. Emphasize the importance of organizing notes to facilitate easy reference during the writing process.

7. Synthesizing Information

Help students synthesize information from multiple sources to develop cohesive arguments. Teach them how to identify common themes, conflicting viewpoints, and gaps in existing research.

8. Analyzing Arguments

Encourage students to critically analyze arguments presented in their sources. Teach them to identify logical fallacies, faulty reasoning, and evidence-based claims to strengthen their own arguments.

9. Citing Sources Properly

Teach students the importance of proper citation and referencing according to a specific style guide (MLA).  Show students how to cite sources within the text and create a works cited page.

10. Avoiding Plagiarism

Emphasize the consequences of plagiarism and teach students how to avoid it by paraphrasing, quoting sources accurately, and citing all borrowed ideas properly.

11. Revising and Editing

Teach students to review and refine their research-based arguments through multiple drafts. Encourage peer review and provide constructive feedback to help students improve their writing and argumentation skills.

We are excited to continue working on argumentative writing skills with students, and to ensure a strong finish at the end of the school year.

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