Writing an Argumentative Essay: Crafting a Claim | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2A:U1:L14

Writing an Argumentative Essay: Crafting a Claim

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. (W.7.1)
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (W.7.4)
  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of literary text. (RL.7.1)

Supporting Targets

  • I can choose relevant and compelling reasons, supported by strong evidence from Lyddie, to support the claim I am making in my argument essay.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Checking for Understanding entry task
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.     Opening

A.  Entry Task: Checking for Understanding (10 minutes)

2.     Work Time

A.  Take a Stand: Weighing the Reasons (15 minutes)

B.  Making a Claim (15 minutes)

3.     Closing and Assessment

A.  Exit Ticket: My Claim (5 minutes)

4.     Homework

A.  Read Chapters 20-23 of Lyddie and complete Reader's Notes for Chapters 20, 21, 22, and 23. This is due in Lesson 19.


  • This lesson continues the series of lessons that prepare students to write for their End of Unit 1 Assessment. Today, students build on the work from Lessons 10-12 where they gathered evidence to answer whether or not Lyddie should sign the petition.
  • Note that students saw the End of Unit 1 Assessment prompt in Lesson 13, as a part of the Explanatory Essay vs. Argument Essay handout. It is repeated again in this lesson as its own stand-alone document.
  • This lesson is a decision point for the students. By the end of the lesson, they will write the claim in their essay and the reasons they will use. To help students decide which claim to argue, they will weigh the reasons and text code the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizers that they used in Lessons 10-12. These were collected in Lesson 12. Be prepared to return them with feedback and to use the data they provided to inform your instructional decisions over the next several lessons about where students may need additional support.
  • In order to teach students how to choose the most compelling and well-supported reasons for their essay, this lesson includes the Take a Stand protocol that they first did in Module 1, Unit 2, Lesson 4. For this lesson, the protocol will be changed in small ways. Instead of using it to agree or disagree, students will move depending on whether they think Statement A or Statement B is stronger (see Work Time Part A). This is a chance for students to physically move around while learning this crucial step in the argument writing process.
  • This lesson suggests displaying an exemplary student acrostic poem from Lesson 5. Using student work is a powerful teaching tool--but if you don't have one, consider making one yourself.
  • This lesson opens with a short discussion of Chapters 18 and 19. Although this isn't a reading lesson, this entry task will encourage students to continue with the reading homework.
  • In advance: Display an exemplar student acrostic poem from Lesson 5.
  • Review: Lyddie's Decision anchor chart; Chapters 18-19 in Lyddie; Take a Stand Protocol (see Appendix 1); Take a Stand Teacher's Guide.
  • Create a space for the class to stand in a line (consider putting tape on the floor to create this) and post "Statement A" on one side of the line and "Statement B" on the other side of the line.


literally, figuratively, counterclaim, relevant, irrelevant, well-chosen; calloused (148), in vain (141), slack (142), craves (142), wryly (143), miserly (144), grim (149), reading minutes (150), droning (151), robust (152)


  • Checking for Understanding, Chapters 18 and 19 entry task (one for each student)
  • Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizers (collected in Lesson 12, returned here with feedback)
  • Lyddie's Decision anchor chart (begun in Lesson 10)
  • Working Conditions in Lyddie: Textual Evidence note-catcher (students last used this in Lesson 9)
  • End of Unit 1 Assessment Prompt: Lyddie Argument Essay (one per student and one to display)
  • Student exemplar acrostic poem (teacher choice from students' work in Lesson 5; teacher-prepared copy to distribute one per student in this lesson)
  • Take a Stand Teacher Guide (for teacher reference only)
  • Take a Stand Statements (one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Exit ticket (one per student)
  • Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23 (four separate supporting materials; one per student)
  • Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, and Chapter 23, Teacher's Edition (four separate supporting materials; for Teacher Reference)



A. Entry Task: Checking for Understanding (10 minutes)

  • Distribute the Checking for Understanding, Chapters 18 and 19 entry task to students as they enter. Remind students that they can use their Reader's Notes, but not the book itself, to answer these questions.
  • Direct students to complete the entry task individually. As they do so, circulate to check the Reader's Notes (Chapters 18-19) for completion.
  • Cold call students to get responses to the entry task. Listen for students to understand that calloused literally means to have toughened hands and figuratively means to have a hardened or unfeeling heart. Point out the disjointed syntax of the last sentence. Instead of being a complete thought, it's a series of phrases. Explain the way this reflects both Lyddie's thoughts (she is trying not to think too much about her situation) and mood (she feels broken, disjointed, depressed).
  • Ask students to turn to a partner and predict what Lyddie will do now. Cold call on a few pairs to share out.
  • Remind students that in the next few lessons they will be working on their essays and not discussing the reading. However, they must remember to pace themselves and read Chapters 20-23. The Reader's Notes for these are due in Lesson 19.
  • Post definitions for the Reader's Dictionary and prompt students to revise their Reader's Dictionaries as necessary.
  • Finally, direct students' attention to the learning targets. Read them aloud and tell students that today they will be looking at the evidence they have been collecting in order to make a claim.

Work Time

Work Time

A. Take a Stand: Weighing the Reasons (15 minutes)

  • Remind students that they have worked very hard as a class to gather and analyze relevant and specific evidence from the text. Praise them for filling out their Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizers so diligently. Return those, collected in Lesson 12, to the students now, and share any whole class feedback that you have.
  • Also either hand back or direct students to take out the Working Conditions in Lyddie: Textual Evidence Note-catcher (see Lesson 9), as this also contains evidence that might be helpful to them. Remind students that this note-catcher has evidence that relates to Lyddie's working conditions. Today they will consider which reasons are most compelling; they may find evidence on this note-catcher to support the reasons they discuss.
  • Point out that the class has used the evidence to generate reasons to support both claims: that Lyddie should sign the petition and that she should not sign the petition. The Lyddie's Decision anchor chart holds that thinking, as does the last row on the graphic organizers.
  • Explain to students that although they have many relevant pieces of evidence and a number of reasons, not all of these are equally valuable. Some of the reasons are weaker or not as convincing as others. Other reasons are compelling--that is, they are very convincing. They make sense and are supported by strong evidence from the text.
  • Emphasize the importance of finding compelling reasons by giving an example from the students' experience. Consider this example:

*   I'm trying to convince you to go see a movie. I might say, "You should go because it's a short movie--it's only 90 minutes long." The reason is true and it is supported by evidence (90 minutes long), but it isn't very compelling. Brevity isn't usually a reason someone strongly likes or dislikes a movie.

*   But if I said, "You should go to the movie because nine out of 10 teenagers say it's a great movie," that might be a more compelling reason. What your peers think of a movie usually does influence whether or not someone goes to the movies, and it is supported by evidence--a statistic.

  • Say, "Here is a tricky one":

*   I might say, "Meryl Streep is in it." Is that a compelling reason for you personally? No, because it is only a piece of evidence, and it is not connected to a reason. You don't know who Ms. Streep is. So even though that's relevant, it isn't compelling. But if I explained, The acting in this movie is fantastic! Meryl Streep is in it, and she is a really good actress who has won numerous awards!" then that reason becomes more compelling to you.

  • Say, "Here is another tricky one":

*   I might say, "I saw this movie before, and it's funny! I'd like to see it again." You might ask, "What happened in it that is funny?" If I can't answer you, then my reason isn't compelling. Even if you like funny movies, a reason that I can't support with evidence is unlikely to convince you.

  • Explain that to write a convincing, argumentative essay, they need to select compelling reasons and support those reasons with evidence in a way that their reader will understand why they are compelling.
  • Distribute the End of Unit 1 Assessment Prompt: Lyddie Argument Essay or project it on the document camera. Invite students to read along while you read the prompt aloud. Remind them that although they know from reading Chapter 19 that Lyddie did not sign the petition, the essay prompt asks you to argue whether or not she should. The fact that she couldn't is an irrelevant detail.
  • Remind students that this essay is about Lyddie signing the petition--not a mill worker in general or someone living in 2013. Therefore, they should think about what would be a compelling reason to Lyddie.
  • Remind students that they have learned a lot about Lyddie's character from reading this book. They now know a lot about her character traits and her values. Refer them to the student exemplar acrostic poem from Lesson 5 and the planning the poem worksheet they have in their notes. They know she values her family, her independence, her friendships. They know she's a strong, healthy girl who likes to work hard and can solve problems. They know she wants to return to her farm.
  • Explain, therefore, that when they are thoughtfully considering their evidence, they should ask themselves, "Given what I know about Lyddie, is this a compelling reason to her?"
  • Direct the students' attention to the Lyddie Decision anchor chart. Say: "Now let's practice weighing the reasons. For example, one of the reasons we wrote down is that Lyddie should sign the petition because her friends are signing it. This is not compelling because I know that Lyddie is someone who is very independent. Although she values her friendships, I would argue that she values being able to decide for herself more."
  • For the rest of Work Time A, refer to the Take a Stand Teacher's Guide. You will need to refer to Take a Stand Statements (in supporting materials).

B. Making a Claim (15 minutes)

  • Direct the students to their Evidence-Based Claim graphic organizers. Ask them to review the reasons and choose the three most compelling reasons and circle them. Remind them that for a reason to be compelling, it must be supported by evidence. Remind them that they can find evidence on both their Evidence-Based Claim graphic organizers and their Working Conditions in Lyddie: Textual Evidence Note-catchers. As they work, they should check the evidence row of their charts to make sure their reasons are supported by evidence. If necessary, they can add evidence to their graphic organizers, but they should not circle any reasons for which they do not have evidence.
  • Instruct the students to turn and explain to a partner the reasons they think are compelling. Give students a few minutes to discuss. Circulate to check how well the students are choosing evidence. Provide guidance as needed.
  • Instruct the students to put a star on the top of Evidence Based-Claim graphic organizer (for or against) where they found the most compelling reasons. Say: "Because this is where you found the most compelling reasons, this will be the side you will argue."
  • Instruct the students to reread the Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer and find reasons they did NOT star. Ask them to circle the reason that almost convinced them to choose this side. Remind students that part of writing an argumentative essay is acknowledging the counterclaim. Point out that a counterclaim includes reasons and evidence that do not support the claim of the essay but is not irrelevant. This is good to include in an essay because it shows the reader that the author has seriously considered many possible arguments.
  • Instruct the students that they will now sum up their argument with one sentence. This will be their claim, and they will write it in the box at the bottom of the Evidence-Based Claim worksheet. Give students a few minutes to write. Circulate to help with the language.
  • Depending on the needs of your students, consider posting some sentence shells if they are having difficulty crafting a claim. Because of ________, Lyddie should (should not) sign the petition. Lyddie should (should not) sign the petition because _______. The most compelling reasons for Lyddie to sign (not sign) the petition are ______________.

Closing & Assessments


A. Exit Ticket: My Claim (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the exit tickets to students: "What is your claim about Lyddie's decision? What reasons will you use to support your claim?"


  • Read Chapters 20-23 of Lyddie and complete Reader's Notes for Chapters 20, 21, 22, and 23. This is due in Lesson 19, but in the next few lessons you'll also have writing homework to do, so do a lot of reading tonight.

Note: In Lesson 16, you will return these exit tickets with feedback. Before Lesson 16, provide feedback on this work. Also, identify students who would benefit from additional support in Lesson 16.

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