Practice Three Identifying Claim and Evidence, Day Two of Two

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Students will be able to identify claim and evidence in a grade-level text by analyzing Paine's "Common Sense" excerpts.

Big Idea

Government for the people, by the people--Paine's claims, continued.

Do Now: Rhetorical Verb Practice Level Two

5 minutes

Today's Do Now builds on our rhetorical verb work in previous lessons. Students have categorized verbs to have a better understanding of verb meanings and connections, and they have used a verb in one writing example. Now I want them use two verbs in a sentence.

This task seems easy, yet students still find it challenging. As in previous warm-ups, I hear the question, "What's a rhetorical verb?" Not so good after five days of work. There is good, though; this time other students answer rather than me.

After I have attendance in, I survey the room; only a few students are still writing. I make my cold calls and, to my delight, hear great examples. One student had only one verb, but it was at least used correctly; I ask another to build on the example and add a second verb. Our other examples are well connected: assert leads to prove, debate leads to explain, and compare leads to differentiate. For example, "Joe asserted his details were true in order to help prove his claim." We're on the right track!

"Common Sense" Claim and Evidence Practice, cont.

40 minutes

Some days just don't hold enough time (most days if you're a teacher). This was the case with our second "Common Sense" analysis for claim and details; our first day was a special half day (read: short, chaotic classes) with a substitute (read: routines like attendance just take longer), and students ran out of time to work. I took pity on them today and gave them time in class to finish with me available to answer questions.

We start the activity by reviewing tips for finding claims (supported by the whole text, opinions), and then students continue with their work. They buckle down quickly, remembering that the task was challenging and would require their full attention, I imagine.

I answer questions about word meanings and check work as students move through the stages of the assignment. They realize by now that if the details are incorrect, the claims will be incorrect; if the claims are incorrect, the analysis of how they connect will be incorrect. They want to be accurate at the start of the assignment.

This is their first solo practice of the skill of identifying claim and details, and they find it tough. I can tell we will need more practice if only to boost their confidence.

Many students find only partial claims, noting the ideas of change (or that how government is structured should change) and representation (some form of democracy) but not how they connect to the concept of government (the only good government is one which is responsive to the needs of its people via elections). I realize we should discuss looking for words which are repeated in the text (and the title); I make a note to do so when we go over the results.

At the end of the hour, I ask for thumbs for confidence (up for confident, middle for so-so, and down for not confident at all). We're a true mix, all over the board. More work needs to be done.

Evaluation Challenge

Whether you assign group work or independent practice, you always have to do deal with the [sometimes dreaded] early finishers. There they sit, assignment done. Sometimes they find other work to do; sometimes they cause chaos by chatting and distracting others. The best bet is to find something productive for them to do next.

In our previous lesson, we studied evaluation of claims. We have not yet conducted group practice, but I decide to "challenge" my early finishers to see what they can do. I ask them to evaluate the "Common Sense" excerpt they have just analyzed.

They rise to the occasion with no complaint, tackling the questions without requesting assistance. As they work, it becomes clear we need more practice. Their responses are vague ("Paine must have been effective since we went to war and developed a democracy," for example, or, "He had enough detail."), showing a lack of understanding of the skill. Their extra work today provides me with information for my next steps--more texts, more evaluation.