Who is to blame?

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SWBAT craft an argumentative essay that establishes and proves who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

Big Idea

Shakespeare + Argumentative Writing = A Power Couple

The Topic

5 minutes

Today, the students came in knowing that they were going to do a timed writing as their final assessment for Romeo and Juliet.  Yesterday, I introduced them to the Writing prompt (which we had been talking about for a while), and students had some time to take notes and come up with a strategy for their argumentative essay.  

Basically, the topic was "Whose fault was this tragedy?"  This question is not original at all -- I am sure that a million teachers have asked the same question.  Though I have taught Romeo and Juliet many times, I have never used this question as a final assessment.  This year, I decided to do it because my students were really "into" the topic.  There has been a lot of debate and very emotional responses to the events of the play.  So, I decided to ride the wave.  I also made that choice because I feel confident that my kids have really been immersed in the study of this play, so the additional "motivation" provided by a reading test was not necessary.

Writing Assessment: The Argument Essay

60 minutes

So, as I mentioned before, the students came in knowing that they would be writing.  They were allowed to use their notes and their books, and I took questions about the essay format/Rubric and also reviewed how they could choose to include a concession (a "formal" concession in paragraph form is not mandated by our county rubric, nor are the students ready for such a demanding assignment.

I circulated while they wrote, just to monitor progress.  This is the first "real" timed writing that they have had, and they did a great job.  I gave them warnings at 30 minutes and again at 10-15.  Everyone finished with no whining (except that their hands hurt -- Yes, this old teacher made them actually write it.  How barbaric!)

The results?  Overall, the papers were really, really good.  Some kids missed the mark because I still have a few who spend WAY too much time summarizing plot and regurgitating our talking points from class.  But, for the most part, students took the ball and ran with it.  

Here's a really good example. Great argumentative essay: "Tybalt's Chain"