Writing Argument "The Kid Nobody Could Handle"

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SWBAT write argument paragraphs about the characters and themes of the story by inferring character motives in “The Kid Nobody Could Handle.”

Big Idea

Moving from discussion to writing is a natural way to write argument.

Students check their notes

10 minutes

Today, we will move from an active, oral argumentation about the story into strong written argumentation (click here to learn more) much in the vein that Hillocks has endorsed (link).  How do you help students transfer discussion to writing?  I'd be curious to hear more about that, if you'd like to leave a comment on this lesson! 

The text from yesterday's lesson has a lot of opportunity for inference, and it seems age appropriate.  I think it pulls the students in because they feel for the main character, Jim Donnini, who is a loner and has been abandoned by his family.  It's a terrible situation to be in, and I think that the student want to see him get help, and when his teacher, Mr. Helmholtz helps him, it's really a big deal.  What short texts have you used in this way?

In any case, the students have completed taking notes on their copies of the story, "The Kid Nobody Could Handle," and they have added questions on the text using the QAR-adapted sheet yesterday, so the opening part of the lesson today centers on having students assess their textual notes and beginning to internalize the standard of excellence (W.9-10.1a).  


Reading notes check.  Students have already done some active reading notes, and now I want them to self-assess how they did with this.   Attached is a rubric (link) that I will give to my students so that they can begin assessing their work. I am curious to see how they will begin to hold a standard for strong reading and note taking, and how we can move those notes into strong writing.


I will say and ask: 

1.) Please fill out the rubric as you look at your notes on the story.

2.) How well did you do with taking evidence (RL.9-10.1) seriously when you read?

3.) To what extent did your reading notes help you to draw character inferences for class discussion and for the hotseat (RL.9-10.3)?  How can you use the same note taking strategies when you read the novels and other longer works in this class? 




Where credit is due!   

**Note, I wish to acknowledge the input and help of my colleagues on the English 1 team at Maine East for the development of this rubric in conjunction with an assessment literacy class that we took.  This, like much of what is good in our teaching, was a truly collaborative effort!

** For more information on assessment, see Chappuis, Jan, Stiggins, R. Chappuis, S., Arter, J. (2012). Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing It Right—Using It WellRead table of contents

** Finally, I wish to acknowledge the input and energy of the READi grant for helping me to write into this  topic as a teacher! (link)

1:1 Writing argument prep and coaching in class

20 minutes

In this section, students will use 1:1 computer technology to explore writing an argumentative paper (W.9-10.1).  I found out from their first writing, a pre-assessment for this paper, that they write fluently but lack proper use of evidence (W.9-10.1a).  

Thus, I designed the attached graphic organizer (link) and will project it on the board for note taking (see page 2 of the handout).  The goal today is simply to rehearse writing an argument paragraph; at home, students will be responsible for selecting their own evidence and explaining it themselves.  In this way, we move forward in an approach that favors gradual release of the skills of selecting, positioning, and interpreting evidence. 

I will work through one section with them as an exemplar, and then they will work through their own writings tomorrow.  I am most curious about how they will explore evidence as they finish this writing for homework. 


Wrap up discussion

5 minutes

I want to have a quick closing discussion about what counts for good reading of literature (RL.9-10.1) as it relates to argument writing (W.9-10.1).

I will ask:

1.) What insights did you have about the story as we prepared to write?

2.) How does writing firm up (and actualize) your thinking? 

3.) What counts for good evidence in English class?  In Science class?  In History?  In Math?  How do your responses help you to decide on a plan of attack when writing in these various disciplines (W.9-10.10)?

4.) How will you specifically execute this as you write your argumentative paragraph for homework?