Writing an Argument Essay: Peer Critique | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G8:M2B:U2:L13

Writing an Argument Essay: Peer Critique

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. (W.8.1)
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (W.8.4)
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to ensure that purpose and audience have been addressed. (W.8.5)
  • I can select evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (W.8.9)
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader. (L.8.2)

Supporting Targets

  • I can critique my partner's use of evidence using criteria from A Midsummer Night's Dream Argument Rubric.
  • I can revise my work by incorporating helpful feedback from my partner.
  • I can write an organized argument essay about A Midsummer Night's Dream.
  • I can use correct punctuation in my Quote Sandwich.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Supporting Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (from homework)
  • Quote Sandwich for Peer Critique
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Engaging the Writer and Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Incorporating Evidence in an Argument Essay (20 minutes)

     B.  Peer Critique Protocol (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Previewing Homework (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Plan Body Paragraphs 1 and 2 in the essay planner. 

  • This lesson students review the rubric, which will be used to score their essay. This Argument Rubric is based on the NYS Expository Rubric, and has been adapted to more precisely reflect the skills in the W.8.1 standard.
  • In this lesson, the Quote Sandwich is introduced; this is a way to help students understand that when they use evidence in an argument essay, they should always:

-   Introduce the quote with context so the reader is not confused about what is happening in the novel

-   Include the quote

-   Analyze the quote

  • This is where students show their thinking about how the quote develops the reasons and claim. This is often where students struggle the most. The Quote Sandwich guide includes helpful language to support them, such as "this shows ..." Since students are learning this skill, the language is meant to be easy for students to imitate. When they have mastered the analysis (the thinking in the writing), then they can begin to use more sophisticated transitions (the craft in the writing).
  • This lesson includes the Peer Critique protocol. 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. Students engaged in a different peer critique structure in Module 1 when the provided Stars and Steps for the "Inside Out" poems.
  • This Peer Critique protocol is similar to the Praise-Question-Suggest protocol (see Appendix). That is done intentionally to build student capacity.
  • In advance: Consider creating a peer critique packet for each student that includes the Quote Sandwich guide, Quote Sandwich for Peer Critique, Peer Critique Expectations and Directions, and Peer Critique recording form to make distributing papers more efficient.
  • Students are introduced to the essay planner at the end of this lesson. Each space for planning the body paragraphs features room for three Quote Sandwiches, which reflects the space provided on the Supporting Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer. You may wish to remind students that they may have two Quote Sandwiches instead of three in their body paragraphs since they should select the strongest evidence to support their reason.
  • Post: Learning targets.


critique, incorporate feedback 


  • Supporting Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizers (from homework)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream Argument Rubric (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Quote Sandwich guide (one per student)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream model essay (from Lesson 11)
  • Quote Sandwich for Peer Critique (one per student)
  • Peer Critique Expectations and Directions (on chart paper or white board)
  • Peer Critique recording form (one per student)
  • Essay planner (one per student) 



A.    Engaging the Writer and Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to find their Albany Discussion Appointment, and have them share one of their reasons and the piece of evidence that supports it.  Remind them to use their Supporting Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizers (from homework)
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets. Cold call a student to read the learning targets. Ask students what it means to critique work. Cold call for answers. Listen for: "When we critique we are giving feedback based on a rubric." Then ask students what it means to revise. Cold call for answers and listen for: "Revision means that we make changes to our work based on feedback we have gotten from others."

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Analyzing Evidence in an Argument Essay (20 minutes)

  • Distribute and display A Midsummer Night's Dream Argument Rubric using the document camera. Tell students that it is based on the same rubric used to assess their essays in Module 1. Ask them to notice things that might be different from what they did in Module 1.
  • Cold call students to share their ideas. Listen for: "The first row is focused on claim and reasons," "The word argument comes up a lot in the first two rows," "You have to explain how evidence supports your argument," "You have to acknowledge and respond to a counterclaim," and "The argument needs to be logical."
  • Point out that the Coherence, Style, and Organization Row and the Control of Conventions Row are exactly the same.
  • Distribute and display the Quote Sandwich guide on the document camera. Read it aloud and invite students to follow along silently. Point out that they did some analysis of the evidence in the model essay in the previous lesson, so this builds from that. Explain that all three parts of the Quote Sandwich are very important for the reader to understand the evidence and how it develops the reasons and the claim in the essay.
  • Ask students to get out their copies of the A Midsummer Night's Dream model essay, reread the body paragraphs, and circle at least one other example of a Quote Sandwich. Invite them to turn and talk to a partner about what they circled and how it supports the reason in the body paragraph. Cold call one or two pairs to share with the class. Listen for: "I found another Quote Sandwich in the first body paragraph. It is about how Oberon uses the magic flower potion on Demetrius in an attempt to fix Puck's mistake of anointing Lysander with the potion," or "In the second body paragraph, the author uses a Quote Sandwich to show how Puck's control of Bottom was temporary, because Oberon made him restore Bottom's head." Point out to students that using Quote Sandwiches helps the author logically develop her claim and reasons so the thinking is clear to the reader.
  • Draw students' attention to the first quote in the counterclaim paragraph: "Lord, what fools these mortals be!/... And those things do best please me/That befall prepost'rously" (3.2.117, 122-123). Puck thinks he is in control, and he enjoys the resultsAsk students if anyone knows what the three dots in the middle of the quote are called. Be sure students know these dots are called an ellipsis, which is used when omitting part of a quote. In this case, lines 118-121 were omitted from the quote.
  • Draw students' attention to the example quote on the Quote Sandwich guide: "Thou speakest aright. I am that merry wanderer of the night, I jest to Oberon and make him smile ..." (2.1.44-46) and note this other use of the ellipsis at the end of the quote. Explain that in this case the ellipsis shows that there were more words in this line, but they were not necessary to include in the quote. 
  • Tell students that when they practice their Quote Sandwiches they should include at least one quote with an ellipsis and that you will be looking for that as part of the essay's criteria.
  • Share with students that they may find it helpful to use the ellipsis when they quote from the play.
  • Distribute and display the Quote Sandwich for Peer Critique.
  • Tell students that they will practice crafting a Quote Sandwich; then they will engage in a Peer Critique protocol today to get feedback on their Quote Sandwich.
  • Ask students to focus again on their Supporting Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (from homework). Prompt them to choose one reason to focus on, then one piece of evidence that supports the reason. Ask them to craft a Quote Sandwich.
  • Consider pairing students who need extra support together. Then, during peer critique time, work with those pairs.
  • If students need more support forming their claims and reasons based on the exit ticket from Lesson 12, pull a small group during this time. 

B. Peer Critique Protocol (15 minutes)

  • When students have crafted their Quote Sandwiches, ask them to work with their seat partner for the Peer Critique protocol.
  • Remind students that peer critique reflects what people often do in their lives outside of school. In their work, people get feedback to improve. Also, giving feedback can often provide new ideas for one's own work.
  • Invite students to look at the Peer Critique Expectations and Directions. 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. Emphasize that this is focused on their Quote Sandwiches.
  • 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 directions/expectations. Clarify as needed. 
  • Distribute the Peer Critique recording form. Tell students that they will focus their feedback using criteria from the A Midsummer Night's Dream Argument Rubric that focuses on claim, reasons, and evidence. Review the criteria and 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.
  • As students give each other feedback, circulate to make sure they focus on the criteria of the rubric as well as on claim, reasons, and evidence. Consider using this time to address questions or support students who need it.
  • Refocus the whole group. Acknowledge any students who demonstrated positive traits, such as accepting feedback openly, asking good questions, or giving thoughtful feedback in a kind manner.
  • Invite students to revise their Quote Sandwich by incorporating feedback. Point out that feedback may not always be helpful. It is up to the author to decide what feedback will help improve his/her work. 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.
  • During Work Time B, you may want to pull a small group of students to support in finding evidence from the novel. Some students will need more guided practice before they are ready for independent work.

Closing & Assessments


A. Previewing Homework (5 minutes)

  • Distribute the essay planner. Point out that there is space for students to plan the five paragraphs of their essay: the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. For homework tonight, explain that students should take home the Quote Sandwich guide and create the Quote Sandwiches for Body Paragraphs 1 and 2.


  • Plan Body Paragraphs 1 and 2 in the essay planner. 

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