Writing an Argument Essay: Gathering Evidence | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2B:U2:L15

Writing an Argument Essay: Gathering Evidence

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to ensure that purpose and audience have been addressed. (W.7.5)
  • I can select evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (W.7.9)

Supporting Targets

  • I can use the writing process to organize the evidence I need for an argument essay on Pygmalion.
  • I can gather information from the text to use in my argument essay on Pygmalion.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Pygmalion Essay Planner (homework from Lesson 14)
  • Eliza Character Trackers


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Unpack Learning Targets/Review Pygmalion Essay Planner (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Planning the Essay (20 minutes)

     B.  Peer Review Protocol (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Review Learning Targets/Exit Ticket: Reflecting on the Planning Process (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Revise your Pygmalion Essay Planner.

  • This lesson moves students forward from the task of developing claims and reasons for their argument essay on Pygmalion to finding, clarifying, and organizing evidence for their claim and reasons.
  • At this point, students should have a fully considered and developed claim, and reasons that support the claim, listed on their Pygmalion Essay Planner (from homework).
  • During Work Time B, consider working with students who still need help understanding what an argument essay is or how to write a claim with reasons and evidence for an argument essay. Use the completed Eliza Character Trackers that you collected in Lesson 13 to determine who might need additional support.
  • The Pygmalion Essay Planner builds from the essay planner used in Module 1. Notice the inclusion of a space for students to consider their counterclaims at the end of the planner. This placement is intentional, since there are many possible places for students to include a counterclaim in their essay. If you would like to offer students more structure, feel free to require that they acknowledge counterclaims in particular paragraphs--for example, either the introduction and conclusion or in both body paragraphs.
  • The essay planner has space for two body paragraphs. If students would like to write a third and fourth body paragraph, consider providing extra paper for them to do that planning work.
  • Consider posting the Using Quotes in Essays anchor chart from Module 1, which includes tips about how to use, punctuate, and cite quotes in students' writing. It was started in Module 1, Unit 2, Lesson 11.
  • Once planned, students will use Work Time B for a peer critique. Critiques simulate the experiences students will have in the workplace and thus help build a culture of achievement, collaboration, and open-mindedness in your classroom.
  • This peer critique protocol is similar to the Praise-Question-Suggest protocol (see Appendix). This is done intentionally to build student capacity. Students engaged in a similar protocol in Module 1, Unit 3, Lesson 4.
  • Post: Learning targets.


claim, counterclaim, critique, incorporate feedback


  • Pygmalion (play; one per student)
  • Eliza Character Tracker (from Lesson 3; one per student)
  • Pygmalion Essay Planner (from Lesson 14; one per student)
  • Small sticky notes (1 set per student)
  • Peer Critique protocol
  • Peer Critique recording form
  • Exit ticket



A. Unpack Learning Targets/Review Pygmalion Essay Planner (5 minutes)

  • Have students take out Pygmalion, their Eliza Character Tracker and Pygmalion Essay Planner.
  • Read the learning targets aloud as a class:

*   "I can use the writing process to organize the evidence I need for an argument essay on Pygmalion."

*   "I can gather information from the text to use in my argument essay on Pygmalion."

  • Ask students to turn to a partner and discuss how the Eliza Character Tracker and the Pygmalion Essay Planner will help them achieve their learning goals today.
  • Cold call two or three students for their answers. Listen for statements such as: "We've already been gathering evidence as we read; now we're going to put it in the planner for the essay" or "The planner shows us where to place our evidence."

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Planning the Essay (20 minutes)

  • Have students look at the Pygmalion Essay Planner. Point out that this essay planner is similar to the one they used in Module 1 to write their essays on A Long Walk to Water. Remind them also that they used part of this planner, the body paragraph, when they analyzed the model essay.
  • Point out that a major difference between the essay planner in Module 1 and the Pygmalion Essay Planner is at the end, where it says "Counterclaim." Explain that this is the place to think about what counterclaim students will acknowledge in their essay, as well as where to put it. Since there is no one place in the essay for the counterclaim to go, students will need to think carefully about where to include it. Remind them that in the model essay, a counterclaim was acknowledged.
  • Distribute small sticky notes to each student.
  • Ask students to use their Eliza Character Trackers to fill out the evidence boxes for their essay planners. This occurs in two steps:

-   Students copy their evidence from their Eliza Character Trackers onto small sticky notes. Assure them that full sentences are not required, just a note to indicate what evidence is being used. Remind students that their evidence is going to be in Part II of the tracker, in the boxes on the right-hand side labeled "Evidence." Every sticky note with evidence should have a corresponding page number of the play associated with it. Consider modeling this step under a document camera.

-   Next, students place their sticky notes in the corresponding evidence boxes on their Pygmalion graphic organizer.

  • Students may decide to use evidence they did not put on their Eliza Character Tracker; this is fine as long as it is still relevant and compelling. Remind them of the resources they have for evidence and quotes, such as their Reader's Notes and the Eliza trackers. Each new piece of evidence should have its own sticky note.
  • Tell students to work on their essay planner independently; they will have a chance to get feedback from a peer during the next Work Time.
  • Circulate as students are working. Push them to be clear and explicit in their plan.
  • If students need extra help based on their Eliza Character Trackers  from Lesson 13, consider working with individual students or small groups during this time.
  • If students are ready for a challenge, push them to include three or four body paragraphs in their essay instead of two.

B. Peer Review Protocol (15 minutes)

  • Tell students that they will engage in a peer critique today to get feedback on their Pygmalion Essay Planner.
  • Invite students to look at the Peer Critique protocol. Review the expectations. Let students know that these four points are crucial for success:

-   Be kind: Always treat others with dignity and respect. This means we never use words that are hurtful, including sarcasm.

-   Be specific: Focus on particular strengths and weaknesses, rather than making general comments such as "It's good" or "I like it." Provide insight into why it is good or what, specifically, you like about it.

-   Be helpful: The goal is to contribute positively to the individual, not simply to be heard. Be sure your comments contribute to improving your partner's essay plan.

-   Participate: Peer critique is a process to support each other, and your feedback is valued!

  • Explain the steps for the peer critique.
  • Ask students to give you a thumbs-up if they understand the directions or a thumbs-down if they aren't sure. Call on a student with a thumbs-up to explain again. Listen for the student to paraphrase the posted expectations and directions. If there is any confusion, clarify for the class.
  • Pass out the Peer Critique recording form. Review the criteria as shown on the top of the form. Remind students that for this feedback to be helpful, they should focus only on this specific area and should give lots of feedback. Pointing out misspelled words or incorrect punctuation will not be helpful at this point in the writing process.
  • Pair up students. Invite them to sit with their partner and begin the protocol.
  • Have students focus on their Essay Planners, and turn to the New York State Expository Writing Rubric--argument version that is included as a part of their planners.
  • As students are giving each other feedback, circulate around the room. Make sure they are focused on the criteria of the rubric focused on claim, reasons, and evidence. Consider using this time to address questions or support those who need it.
  • Refocus whole group. Acknowledge any students who demonstrated positive traits, such as accepting feedback openly or giving thoughtful feedback in a kind manner.
  • Point out that feedback may not always be helpful. It is up to the author to decide what will help improve his/her work. Take this opportunity to informally look over students' work to make sure they are using the feedback well and focusing on annotating the boxes where they need to make changes.

Closing & Assessments


A. Review Learning Targets/Exit Ticket: Reflecting on the Planning Process (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the exit ticket. Ask students to write a response to the questions:

*   "On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the least and 5 being the most, rate yourself on how strongly you feel you achieved the learning targets today."

*   "What part of planning is hard for you?"

*   "What help do need to finish your plan?"

  • Collect the exit tickets to help you plan which students to support most in upcoming lessons.


  • Revise your Pygmalion Essay Planner based on the feedback you received today.
  • Feel free to replace, remove, or move around the sticky notes as best fits your revisions. Don't throw old sticky notes away, though; just place them on the side or on the back of the organizer. You may need them again.

Note: Be prepared to hand back the exit tickets from this lesson in Lesson 16.

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