The Instructional Design Principles lesson plan published by Molly Beer presents an authentic problem, which are the difficulties demonstrated by 6th graders in creating an organized paragraph, led by a topic sentence and sustained by the use of supporting reasons. Ms. Beer opens a valid discussion about the need to better writing skills as important components of 21st century technology-rich environments present in most students’ life. Moreover, the content proposed can be used throughout the curriculum as well as the students’ academic years and adult lives.

In order to turn this problem into a learning objective, Ms. Beer suggests the use of a StAIR Design Tool through the efficient interactive PowerPoint which will introduce, put skills to practice and apply paragraphing topic sentences and supporting sentences. Her visually rich material was designed to be used in all stages of the learning process, from explanation to application. Target learners, 6th graders with varying writing skills, should be able to successfully construct a solid paragraph on Microsoft Word by being exposed to the completed software presentation. The latter is content-rich, though not tiresome. Information is broken down into blocks that explore each section separately providing numerous examples and a design scheme that is sure to attract the interest of the target audience. The presentation can be easily integrated and aligned with the curriculum, as the learning objectives are clear and immediately identifiable. The author also makes use of positive encouragement frequently, which lends a given lightness to the content.

Navigating the software is another advantage: its interactive tools are consistent and clearly distinguishable. In terms of accessibility, though, it would be a great idea for the author to make it genuinely public, as an average MERLOT user who clicks on its link is directed to the Michigan State University secure server, having to type in a registered username and password to be able to open the materials provided. This is, nonetheless, a very organized and attractive resource, and I highly recommend my fellow MAET colleagues — due to the username/password limitation — to take a closer look.

Featured image: Parallel Lines, CC SA By theirl

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  • Lenny Poage

    I really like the practical application use of writing skills! It’s something I’m trying more and more to incorporate into my classes while trying to steer away from the typical essay format assignment.

  • Susan Wright

    Great find! I’m going to share this one with the 4th grade teachers in my building. They might want to use it with their students before the end of the school year. Getting the students to understand the difference between writing narratives and essays is a challenge. This will help get the troops on the same page, so to speak=8-)

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