Qualities of a Strong Literacy Essay | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M2B:U2:L9

Qualities of a Strong Literacy Essay

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite text-based evidence to support an analysis of literary text. (RL.6.1)
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (W.6.4)
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to produce clear and coherent writing. (W.6.5)

Supporting Targets

  • I can describe the qualities of a literary argument essay.
  • I can analyze how evidence from the text supports a claim in a model essay.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Model essay text-coded to show claim (c), text evidence (T), examples from life today (L), and explanation (E)

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Unpacking Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Unpacking the Prompt: End of Unit Assessment (10 minutes)

B. Reading like a Writer: Annotating the Model Essay (12 minutes)

C. Analyzing Evidenced-Based Claims: Model Essay (16 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Reflection: Why Do We Analyze Models? (2 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Read "Simon, the Knight's Son" and complete the Themes of Adversity graphic organizer.

  • This lesson launches the end of unit assessment, in which students will write a literary argument essay. Within this essay, they will answer the question: "Do we struggle with the same adversities as the people of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!?" The task is labeled a literary argument because students compare the adversities described in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! to the adversities they face in their own lives and use evidence from the novel and their own experiences to support their position.
  • For the purpose of the end of unit Assessment, the New York State Grades 6-8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric has been adapted to assess the standard about written arguments, Writing 6.1, and has been renamed the Literary Argument Essay Rubric.
  • In this lesson, students closely examine the prompt and a model essay. This process is meant to ensure that they have a clear understanding and purpose for the work ahead. To do this, students first "code" the essay to make note of claims, evidence, and analysis. Then, they use the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer to solidify their thinking. They will use another one of these graphic organizers during the pre-writing process for their own essay, beginning in Lesson 10.
  • Teachers co-create the Qualities of a Strong Literary Argument Essay anchor chart with students in Work Time A. As students share the qualities they think should be added to the anchor chart, do your best to translate their ideas into language from the rubric. Students will use the rubric in later lessons to evaluate their writing, and this will help them become familiar with the language and eventually the rubric itself.
  • In advance:

-    Prepare the definition of a "literary argument" to display with a document camera.

-    Prepare three questions for unpacking targets on the board.  See "Opening." 

-    Review the student model essay.

-    Create a coding guide.

  • Post: Learning targets and coding guide.

Vocabulary

literary argument, qualities

Materials

  • Document camera
  • Are We Medieval? A Literary Argument Essay Prompt (one per student and one to display)
  • Qualities of a Strong Literary Argument Essay anchor chart (new; co-created with students in Work Time A)
  • Model Essay: "Are We Medieval? Opportunities in the Middle Ages and Today" (one per student and one to display)
  • Are We Medieval?: Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (one to display)
  • Are We Medieval?: Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (answers, for teacher reference)
  • Themes of Adversity graphic organizer for "Simon, the Knight's Son" (one per student)

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Unpacking Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets. Invite them to follow along as you read the learning targets out loud:

* "I can describe the qualities of a literary argument essay."

* "I can analyze how evidence from the text supports a claim in a model essay."

  • Explain that understanding a literary argument is key to their success in the next several lessons. Begin with having them think about what an argument is.
  • Ask students to discuss with an elbow partner:

* "Think about a time that you were in an argument with someone. What causes an argument?"

  • Cold call a pair to share their thinking. Ideally, students will say: "We disagreed about something" or "We had different ideas."
  • Explain that in writing, there is a difference between argument and opinion. In speaking, we often say we had an argument because we had a difference of opinion, but when we refer to writing, the meaning of the two words is different. Writing an opinion piece means that it's something a person believes, whether or not the person has evidence to prove it. However, in a written argument, the author will make a claim, support it with reasons, and prove those reasons with evidence.
  • Ask:

* "If a written argument involves an author making a claim, supporting it with reasons, and proving those reasons with evidence, what can you infer is a literary argument?"

  • After giving students some think time, ask for a volunteer to share his or her answer. Listen for students to infer that a literary argument means the supporting reasons and evidence come from a text, from a piece of literature.
  • Using a document camera, display the definition of a literary argument: "A literary argument is a piece of writing that makes a claim about a literary text and uses details and evidence to support that claim."
  • Tell students that in order for them to get ready to write their own essays, they will look at a model essay today. 
  • Discussing and clarifying the language of learning targets helps build academic vocabulary.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Unpacking the Prompt: End of Unit Assessment (10 minutes)

  • Display and distribute Are We Medieval? A Literary Argument Essay Prompt. Invite students to follow along with you as you read the prompt aloud. Ask them to circle any unfamiliar words. Clarify words as needed.
  • Direct students to underline words and phrases in the prompt that help make a strong literary argument.
  • Invite them to close their eyes for a moment and envision themselves writing their essay. Ask them to think about what the essay needs to include and what thinking they need to do in order to write.
  • Now, have students open their eyes, get with a partner, and discuss the three questions displayed on the board. Ask:

* "What is this prompt asking you to do?"

* "What will your writing have to include to address the question?"

* "What thinking will you have to do to complete that writing?"

  • Refocus students whole group. Begin creating the Qualities of a Strong Literary Argument Essay anchor chart.
  • Cold call pairs to share what they discussed. Add these contributions to the anchor chart. As students share, put their answers into language from the rubric. For example, if a student says, "We have to choose a position," you might write: "Make a claim = choosing a side." Be sure the chart includes:

-    Make and introduce a claim. (Students may say, "Choose a side and write it at the beginning.")

-    Choose text evidence and examples from life today that support the claim.

-    Explain how each piece of evidence and example supports the claim. (Students might say, "Add my own thinking" or "Explain the evidence.")

-    Make it coherent. (Students might say, "Make it stick together; have everything connect.")

-    Make it logical. (Students might say, "Have it make sense.")

  • For anything students do not identify on their own, add it to the anchor chart and explain why you are adding it.
  • Anchor charts provide a visual cue to students about what to do when you ask them to work independently. They also serve as note-catchers when the class is co-constructing ideas.
  • Adding visuals or graphics to anchor charts can help students remember or understand key ideas or directions.

B. Reading like a Writer: Annotating the Model Essay (12 minutes)

  • Display and distribute the Model Essay: "Are We Medieval? Opportunities in the Middle Ages and Today."
  • Congratulate students on recognizing the criteria for a strong literary argument. Tell them they will now begin reading like a writer, studying a model literary argument essay to see what they will be writing.
  • Invite students to follow along while you read the model essay out loud.
  • Ask students to turn to their partner and talk about the gist of the essay. If necessary, prompt them about the content of the essay:

* "What claim is the author of this essay making?"

* "What is the purpose of the body paragraphs?"

  • Listen for students to explain that the author is making the claim that the opportunities available to children in the Middle Ages were very different from the opportunities available to them today. Also listen for students to explain that the purpose of the body paragraphs is to justify this claim with reasons and evidence from the text and from personal life experiences.
  • Explain that based on the close reading of the prompt, students already know that a strong essay includes a claim, text evidence, and an explanation of how the evidence supports the claim.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted coding guide.
  • Ask them to write the codes on the top of the model essay so they remember what they are: C=claim, T=evidence from the text, L=examples from life today, E=explanation.
  • Reread the first two paragraphs of the model essay aloud as students follow along. After reading these paragraphs, stop to  model the process of coding. Ask:

*     "Where is the claim?"

* "Where is the evidence from the text?"

* "Where are the examples from life today?"

* "Where is the explanation about the evidence?'

  • Listen to student suggestions and mark the displayed model essay as follows:
  • Mark a C next to the first sentence of the first paragraph, in which the author states the opportunities were different back then.

-    Mark a T next to the first piece of evidence in quotation marks in the first body paragraph.

-    Mark an L at the end of the paragraph in which the author discusses his/her father.

-    Write an E next to the sentence after the first sentence in quotation marks in the first paragraph.

  • Check for student understanding by asking:

* "Show a Fist to Five about how well you understand how I coded our model essay."

  • Note any students who have less than a three and circulate to them first when they work on subsequent paragraphs.
  • Prompt students to read the remainder of the model essay, using the coding guide to annotate it.
  • Circulate and observe annotations, making note of whether students are able to find the text evidence and the explanations.
  • Refocus whole group. Ask students to turn to a different elbow partner and discuss their annotations.
  • Most likely, you will notice some students struggling to make a decision about whether part of the essay is a T, L, or E, or whether they should code T and E for the same part of the essay. Let them know that explaining supporting evidence is the analysis part of the essay, and many times it can be challenging to identify it on a first read.
  • It is important for students to process and understand the "content" of the essay before they look more closely at the writer's craft.
  • Consider giving select students pre-annotated or pre-highlighted texts. This will allow them to focus on key sections of the essay.
  • Coding the text will allow students to return to the model essay later to help guide them in their independent writing. 

C. Analyzing Evidenced-Based Claims: Model Essay (16 minutes)

  • Display the Are We Medieval?: Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer.
  • Invite a volunteer to tell you how she or he coded the second paragraph (Body Paragraph 1).
  • Write the evidence in the "text evidence" box of the graphic organizer, the real life experience evidence in the "examples from life today" box. Record the explanation in the "explaining the thinking" box of the graphic organizer under both the text evidence and examples from life today.
  • Refer to the Are We Medieval?: Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (answers, for teacher reference) as necessary.
  • Invite students to discuss with their new elbow partner how they think the second column of the organizer should be filled out for the third paragraph, Body Paragraph 2.
  • Invite volunteers to share out and fill in the displayed graphic organizer.
  • Ask students to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down if they felt successful separating the text evidence from the explanations.
  • Note the students who show a thumbs-down; they may need more scaffolding to separate text evidence and explanations in Lesson 10.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflection: Why Do We Analyze Models? (2 minutes)

  • Ask students to Think-Pair-Share with their elbow partner:

* "Why are we studying our model essay so closely?"

  • Invite volunteers to share their answers. Guide students to understand that they are reading like writers as they study the model essay in preparation for writing their own essay. Analyzing the text is helping them to identify the type of content and evidence they need to include in a strong essay.
  • Distribute a Themes of Adversity graphic organizer for "Simon, the Knight's Son."
  • Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all learners, but research shows it supports struggling learners most.

Homework

Homework
  • Read "Simon, the Knight's Son" and complete the Themes of Adversity graphic organizer.

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