Praise Paradox Cause/Effect

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Students will be able to trace an author's argument when they read for cause/effect by engaging in highly functional base groups and sharing notes on the informational text.

Big Idea

What do praise and criticism lead to? My students will analyze cause/effect in an interesting non-fiction text.


5 minutes

Students have read the article called the "Praise Paradox."  I will use base groups in order to allow students to graph the argument that the writers have created and to see cause/effect (RI.9-10.5).  I am hoping for 100% participation from my class of 24 students in the follow-up discussion.  The lesson is challenging because it asks students to create and engage in highly functional base groups and to graph the cause/effect relationships that exist in praise and criticism.  

I think that this particular essay will be interesting because the students are starting off a new school year still, one that promises a lot of positive, negative, and corrective feedback.  Navigating this feedback is really important for all students! 

I would like to explain to you a bit more about this lesson: Introduction, so please check out the link. 

Project READi has had a strong impact on several units in my BL Curriculum a university grant that helped propel my teaching.  It was an awesome experience! 

Snooze bar! A photo elicitation about motivation

10 minutes

Photo hook.  I am using a quick photo-elicitation to try to hook the students into thinking about motivation. The Standing-Sleep_With_Opened_Eye depicts a teen girl who is a little bit bored and maybe even sleepwalking.  It's an extreme case of either disengagement or sleepiness :-)  I will use this near caricature to explore motivation with the students as a prelude to thinking about the cause/effect present in the non-fiction (RI.9-10.5) article that we are reading.

I will ask, using the Standing-Sleep_With_Opened_Eye from wikimedia commons, ask: 

1.) What do you seen here?

2.) What does it make you wonder?

3.) Why is she sleepwalking?

4.) Do you ever feel this way in school?

5.) What helps you be motivated or not motivated?


6.) What affects your persistence and performance?  

7.) We'll be discussing that today!


Image link from Wikimedia Commons.


Base Groups!

10 minutes

Introducing base groups.  I use base groups that are stable and that require some maintenance in order to create a community of practice inside my classroom in which students regularly contribute meaningfully from texts (SL.9-10.1) and develop norms of interaction (SL.9-10.1b).  The students will not only be coming back after a long weekend (perfect time to help focus with a base group activity), but they will also be doing a difficult assignment, which is mapping the argument (RI.9-10.5) of two writers as they discuss praise, persistence, and performance.  

Base Group Agenda.  I ask students to get into their base group of three students, and I look, at this early stage in the year, for a quick transition, that students slide chairs quietly.  I ask them to follow the following agenda:

1.) Say "hi" in an interesting way.

2.) Review your base group's progress and set a goal for today.

3.) Complete the cause effect and praise by adding one quotation to each descriptor on the graphic.  The quotation should elaborate on the idea and help to explain it. 

4.) Be ready to share with the class.

5.) Say "bye" and "thanks" and "you're the best base group buddies ever!" (Or something to that effect.)



1.) According to a coaching website, here is a succinct definition of Cooperative Base groups drawn form the work of David and Roger Johnson.

 2.) "Cooperative base groups are long-term, stable groups that last for at least a year made up of individuals with different aptitudes and perspectives. They provide a context in which students can support each other in academics as well as in other aspects of their lives. The group members make sure everyone is completing their work and hold each other accountable for their contributions. Implementing cooperative base groups in such a way that students meet regularly for the duration of a course completing cooperative learning tasks can provide the permanent support and caring that students need "to make academic progress and develop cognitively and socially in healthy ways." (Johnson et al., 1998 , p.10:7)"

Follow-up Discussion of Praise Cause/Effect

15 minutes

Follow-up discussion.  I am trying to still gain as much participation and diagnostic information as I can about the character of the class.  Also, I am looking to find out how well they traced the argument about praise and feedback in a longer article that has a heightened vocabulary load.  I think that this text, while not being too difficult for the students to read, definitely announces to them that this will be a year of challenge and a step up from their previous years' work in English/L.A.

I will ask:

1.) What did you read that made you think?  What made you wonder about something new?  What facts or stats were the most surprising?  

2.) What were the effects of praise of someone's intelligence?  Effort?  Please share your textual examples with the class.

3.) Think Pair Share: What are the effects on you?  What factors help you to stay motivated to persist?  What other factors affect your performance academically?    





Credits for these question stems.  For more information about Harvard Education's Visible Thinking Protocols, check out their website:  I will be exploring these in greater depth in coming lessons!