Rationale: As many high schools will begin September with a hybrid model, students will spend a significant amount of time online. This is an assignment idea that will be appropriate for that mode of learning, with an emphasis on literacy. An exemplar (Cecropia Moths), written by an 11 year old student, is included in this blog.
Assignment length: 3 paragraphs
Class time: Choosing a topic: Teacher directed or from a teacher generated list
Developing a plan: Develop a logical sequence
Teach students to use a SEEC format for each paragraph
SEEC Format: Each paragraph has one central idea or theme. SEEC is an acronym for:
- S first sentence is a statement introducing the paragraph theme.
- E gives an example to support the statement
- E explains the example
- C Conclusion or summary sentence restates the first sentence using slightly different words.
Motivation: My granddaughter found a large caterpillar in an apple tree. With the internet we were able to identify it as a Cecropia moth. It was placed in a jar for her to make observations as she completed this assignment. As it was her first assignment of this kind, I wrote the first paragraph to illustrate the SEEC format to get her started. The planned sequence was Egg, Caterpillar, Adult Moth
Paragraph 1: Look at the SEEC structure in the paragraph I wrote:
Cecropia eggs are unusual when compared to other moth eggs. For example, their size, colour and structure are different. While most moth eggs are very small, usually off-white and laid in masses, Cecropia moth eggs are large, white with a splash of brown and laid individually. This makes their eggs uncommon in the moth world.
My granddaughter wrote paragraph 2:
Usually caterpillars are scary a little but soft when you first see them but Cecropia moths are way different. For example, they have horns all over their body, and they are very brightly coloured. The reason why they seem super scary is because of the horns and colour. Usually when you see something with those things, you think they are poisonous. Actually, they aren’t poisonous at all, they are just pretending to be spiky and poisonous to scare off predators.
Edits: When correcting, edit only some of the errors to keep the student motivated. I decided, for example, to not work on cleaning up the superlatives, leaving that for another day.
Usually caterpillars are soft and have few colours, but Cecropia moth caterpillars are way different. For example, they have horns all over their body, and they are brightly coloured. Usually when you see something with those things, you think they are poisonous. Actually, they aren’t poisonous. They are trying to scare off predators.
My granddaughter went on to write a successful paragraph 3. Her caterpillar is now almost 4 inches (10 cm) in length and is in the final stage before pupating. She has called it Rainbow.
Applying this knowledge: Once the students have been taught the SEEC format, teachers can make it part of test questions. For example, a test on electricity could be, “ In SEEC format, explain why there are signs that say Danger High Voltage, but there are no signs that say Danger High Current”. The students will know that they are expected to answer in at least 4 sentences. They will also know that an example must be used, with an accompanying explanation.
STAO Safety Chair