Digging Deeper - Deconstructing the Author's Argument

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SWBAT determine the author's point of view by outlining the central idea(s) and supporting details to determine the author's argument.

Big Idea

Fleshing out the bones of an argument is essential in deconstructing that argument.



5 minutes

I commend students for having been purposeful in annotating the text, "Stereotyping," and share particularly good comments students have made, such as some personal connections students made to being stereotyped. I then share a general observation, which is that I can still see that there is a struggle to accurately identify and formulate the author's central ideas and points. I let students know that today, they will get more guidance with this task.

I ask students to use the back of their copy of "Stereotypes" to write the following outline of the author's ideas and to leave enough room to fill it in. I point out that it is important to pay attention to paragraph terminology. Many of my students will confuse Body Paragraph 1 with Paragraph 1. I spent a minute reminding them that if I meant for them to identify the central idea in the very first paragraph, I would have called it Introductory Paragraph of just Paragraph 1. The reason why I am only having them look for central ideas in the body paragraphs is because this text lends itself for that study and once students identify this information, they will have a good grasp of what the author is arguing. Also, they will have to state the author's central point, essentially his thesis, after having identified his three central ideas and it is often easier for students to formulate the thesis after having formulated the central ideas. This task is an important part of the CCSS standards for reading informational texts. Students are working to identify the central ideas in the body of the essay and then finding the connection between them to identify the author's main point.

  • The main idea in Body Paragraph 1 is…

One supporting detail in Body Paragraph 1 is…

  • The main idea in Body Paragraph 2 is…

 One supporting detail in Body Paragraph 2 is…

  • The main idea in Body Paragraph 3 is…

 One supporting detail in Body Paragraph 3 is…

  • The author’s point is…



Guided Practice

30 minutes

I initially give students a few minutes to begin to formulate and write down what they believe is the central idea of one body paragraph. I then interrupt them and gather their attention to make them do something I want them to be able to do on their own in the future, check the accuracy of what they have written. I ask students to reread the sentence they have written to state the first central idea and to go back to the text asking the following question: Is this what the entire paragraph is mostly about? I give students an example. I point to the first body paragraph and tell students that in this paragraph, the author said something about being in the Marine Corp, about machismo, about a barroom brawl, etc. Then I pose the following question: Would it be accurate to say that this entire paragraph is mainly about a barroom brawl, or about machismo? They all accurately respond that it would not be. I then ask them to go through the same process with the sentences they formulate. As they work, I jump from student to student speed reading the sentences they have drafted to state the author's central ideas and I put a checkmark next to each statement that accurately does the job. For those students who are not stating the central ideas accurately, I spend time helping them identify the central idea by asking the guiding questions I just suggested and helping them draft sentences. 

After I can see that many of them are about to finish this part, I ask them to give me their attention so that I can give them some guidance identifying the author's point. I tell students that when authors draft an argument, they often establish their central point and break it down into smaller parts so that they can develop each part at a time. This is a useful way of illustrating CCSS RI.11-12.3. I let students know that what they identified now is the smaller parts and to formulate the author's central point, it is helpful to think of how these smaller parts are connected and what they may be communicating together, thus addressing CCSS RI.11-12.6.  I also take this time to add one more bullet point to their outline.

  • What does the author's argument suggest about IDENTITY?

I explain to students that this may be one text that can help them answer the question they selected about Identity and that they need to spend some time thinking about the question posed. 

Closing And Next Steps

10 minutes

I take a poll at this point. I ask students to consider whether this text can help them answer their question about Identity, which they selected in an earlier lesson. I ask them to raise one finger if they know for sure they will incorporate this text in their essay, two fingers if they know they will definitely not, three fingers if they are not sure. I had a small group raising one finger, a few raising two and several raising three.

I then ask students to select specific quotes that may help them, if they know they are going to incorporate this text in their essay, or that they feel may help someone else who may choose to incorporate this text.