Writing an Argumentative Essay: Analyzing the Model Essay | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2A:U1:L15

Writing an Argumentative Essay: Analyzing the Model Essay

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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 identify the argument and specific claims in a text. (RI.7.8)
  • I can evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text for sound reasoning and relevant, sufficient evidence. (RI.7.8)

Supporting Targets

  • I can explain what it means to write a coherent argument essay with appropriate structure and relevant evidence.
  • I can analyze the claim, use of evidence, and structure in a model essay. 

Ongoing Assessment

  • Analyzing Evidence in Model Essay handout
  • Analyzing Structure of the Model Essay handout
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Entry Task (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Analyzing Evidence in the Model Essay (15 minutes)

B. Analyzing Structure in the Model Essay (20 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Exit Ticket (5 minutes)

4. Homework

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

  • In this lesson, students analyze the model argument essay in more depth than they did in Lesson 13. Students focus on the model essay in this lesson because, unlike with narrative writing, students generally do not have lots of experience reading argument writing. To be able to write in a particular form, students need to have a deep understanding of its elements.
  • Students need a model to emulate in order to successfully push their writing, much like a basketball player imitating the moves of a professional in order to improve his or her play. It is good for students to imitate the structure of a model argument essay to show they can do the thinking that an argument essay requires. To make sure the students are assessed on their own thinking, the model essay is focused on another decision that Lyddie makes. It is similar to the essay prompt, but students will not be able to use the ideas in the model essay in their own writing.
  • The goal of students' analysis of the model is to be sure they understand the claim, reasons, use of evidence, and the structure of an argument essay. Students reread the model several times, each time with a different purpose. Rereading will help students internalize the model essay, supporting their own essay writing in Lesson 18.
  • In their own essay later in this unit, students will build on the skills they developed in Module 1, including the use of quotes. In Module 1, the focus was on students citing and punctuating quotes correctly (see Module 1, Unit 2, Lesson 11). Students are expected to continue to do this. But the new learning focus here is specifically on how to use a "quote sandwich."
  • Students also are introduced to part of the planner for the argument essay. They will use it to analyze the structure of the model essay, especially the structure within body paragraphs. In the next lesson, students will plan their essay using the complete planner. This build is intentional; it not only gives students a framework for analyzing the model essay, but also gives them a model to complete most of the planner.
  • In the entry task, students refer to part of the NYS Expository Writing Rubric (argument version). The section they need to use is embedded in the entry task. In this lesson, students only analyze 2 rows of the argument essay rubric.  This is because the argument essay rubric is based on the NYS Expository Writing Rubric, which students analyzed in depth in Module 1.  Therefore, students focus only on the criteria that have changed. 
  • The full rubric for the essay is attached to Unit 1, Lesson 18.
  • In advance: Post learning targets.
  • Decide which Discussion Appointment to use today.


coherent, argument, appropriate, structure, relevant evidence


  • Entry task (one per student)
  • Weaving Room Discussion Appointments handout (from Lesson 3)
  • Analyzing Evidence in the Model Essay (one per student and one to display)
  • Analyzing Evidence in the Model Essay (for Teacher Reference)
  • Analyzing Structure of the Model Essay (one per student and one to display)
  • Analyzing Structure of the Model Essay (for Teacher Reference)
  • Document camera
  • Exit ticket (one per student)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the entry task. Ask students to read the criteria from the Command of Evidence row of the NYS Expository Writing Rubric (argument version), choose the box under 3 or 4 from the rubric above, and rewrite it in their own words
  • Ask students to turn to their partner and share their entry task.
  • Read the learning targets aloud and explain that students will focus on analyzing the model essay for evidence and structure.
  • Putting criteria in their own words will support students' understanding of the expectations of the argument essay.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Analyzing Evidence in the Model Essay (15 minutes)

  • Ask students to get out their copy of the model essay, where they underlined the claim and numbered the reasons that support the claim.
  • Ask students to reread the essay silently as you read it aloud. Review the claim and reasons that students identified in Lesson 10.
  • Distribute the Analyzing Evidence in the Model Essay handout. Explain that the students are going to look closely at how evidence is used in an argument essay. Remind them that in their essays, they will be using "quote sandwiches" to present and explain their evidence. They were introduced to the quote sandwich in Lesson 11.
  • Direct students to sit with the Discussion Appointment you designate for today. When they are settled, invite students to work with their partner to do the following:
  • Find a quote sandwich in the model essay.
  • Add it to your handout.
  • Answer Questions 1-3.
  • As students are working, circulate to address questions as they arise. If students are stuck, prompt with questions such as: "Why do you think so?" "Where do you see that in the essay?" and "How does that relate to the claim/reason in the essay?"
  • Once students have finished, refocus the class whole group. Cold call on pairs to share their answers to Questions 1-3 on the handout. Clarify or correct as needed. Encourage students to add to or revise their own answers based on the class discussion.

B. Analyzing Structure in the Model Essay (20 minutes)

  • Explain that students will turn their attention to the structure of the model essay, and that will require that students reread the model essay again. Remind them that rereading is a skill that good readers practice and it takes perseverance.
  • Distribute and display Analyzing Structure of the Model Essay. Tell students that this handout is just like one part of the essay planner that they will use in the next lesson to plan their own essays. For today, students will use it to understand the structure of the body paragraph of an argument essay.
  • To get students started, do a think-aloud about how to fill out the Analyzing Structure of the Model Essay handout by filling in the claim and the topic sentence and first piece of evidence in the box for Body Paragraph 1. Use the Analyzing Structure of the Model Essay (for Teacher Reference). Invite students to fill out their own handouts as you do the think-aloud.
  • Ask students if there are any questions about using the handout. Clarify as necessary. Invite students to continue working with their partners to analyze the structure of the essay and complete the handout.
  • As students are working, circulate. Push students to think about how those body paragraphs are structured. Ask questions like: "What is the job of that sentence?" "How do those sentences go together?" and "How does that sentence relate to the reason/claim?"
  • After about 10 minutes, refocus the class. Cold call on pairs to share what they included for Body Paragraph 1. Add to the displayed copy and encourage students to add to or revise their own work as needed. Emphasize that the evidence in an argument essay always needs to be explained, as it is in the model essay. By connecting the evidence to specific reasons, an author makes a strong argument.
  • Ask:

*     What was included in the body paragraphs that was not on the handout?"

  • Give students a moment to think and then cold call on students to share their ideas. Listen for them to say: "The introduction to the quotes wasn't included on the handout," and "Transition words weren't included on the handout."
  • Explain that the essay planner that students will be using in the next lesson is meant to help them organize their ideas but will not be the template for their entire essay. They need to keep things like the introduction of quotes and use of transitions in mind when they draft their essay later.
  • Providing a model that is clear enough to illustrate the criteria for all students, but also a bit more advanced than what students are actually expected to do, helps push even the strongest writers.
  • If many students need more support with the structure of body paragraphs, consider more extended teacher guidance and modeling with this task.

Closing & Assessments


A. Exit Ticket: My Claim (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the exit ticket. Ask students to reread the conclusion of the model essay and underline the claim and circle the reasons restated in it.
  • Collect students' exit tickets to informally assess. Focus on students who may need more support identifying claims and reasons.


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

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