Practice Two Identifying Claim and Evidence
Lesson 6 of 18
Objective: Students will be able to identify claim and evidence in a grade-level text by analyzing Paine's "Common Sense" excerpts.
This warm-up is a continuation of our study of rhetorical verbs which began in this lesson. For a full overview of the activity, check out the original version.
As with our last practice, I rely on cold call for responses. Today, all students are able to provide a category and justification (which is most important as there are multiple "correct" responses), and we finish the activity in record time.
Now that we have our verbs categorized, I explain that we will begin to use the verbs in our writing. As with all words, it's best to avoid repetition. Students can use the categories to choose appropriate synonyms as they write.
I introduce our next reading, an excerpt from Thomas Paine's "Common Sense." Jokes erupt over the title; some students exclaim, "I already have common sense!"
"Right," I say with a smile. "Are you sure?"
We laugh together, then I ask students to pull up the text from our class webpage. I have them open the text in a note-taking app, reminding them that taking notes while reading is a great way to aid comprehension. Today, it will be a part of their assignment.
I read the first paragraph, using volume and tone to draw attention to key phrases and sentences. After, I give students two minutes (exactly--it's important to honor your word) to write what they think the paragraph is about and any questions they have. I mill about as they write, encouraging on-task behavior and checking their responses. I see the key phrases on their notes, a good sign for their comprehension.
After two minutes, I ask for a volunteer to share the "what is this about" part of their notes. One brave hand moves up--she shares, I smile, she's right--this paragraph establishes that government and society are two separate concepts. I ask several students to share questions, which other students field. Our understanding is solid.
Paragraph two: repeat above. Students correctly identify the central idea that government (according to Paine) is based on the bad in human nature and is, itself, bad.
With our two paragraphs for the day complete (just enough to give us text to analyze without becoming overwhelming), we move into analysis.
It's time to practice identifying and analyzing claim and evidence again. We review our previous experiences, and I offer tips based on my earlier observations of their strategies and final work. Start with the details. Be sure claims aren't reworded variations of each other. When connecting claims, move beyond restating the claims. Why are both claims in the text? This standard is about finding multiple claims AND talking about how they relate, so it's important to consider both.
For our last practice, I assigned students to groups of three or four. Today, I take away some support; students will work with their table partners only. True proficiency cannot happen when students rely too much on one another for support, so we need to work toward independent analysis. Today is a step in that direction.
Using the same analysis questions as our first practice, I ask students to analyze the first excerpt from "Common Sense." They begin to work, and I move around the room to observe their efforts, answer questions, and keep them motivated. Many questions relate to the detail, "Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." Once I help students see it for what it is--a metaphor--they have more success in seeing its connection to the central idea of government as a negative.
Students seem more confidant in their work this practice; they start with details this time rather than claims, and I field fewer questions. At the end of class, I ask for work submission and see they feel more successful by the looks on their faces.