Evaluating Claims and Evidence in Atticus' Closing Argument

6 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT evaluate evidence as sufficient and relevant by examining a closing argument.

Big Idea

What can we learn from the world's biggest argument stage?

Warm Up

5 minutes

Engaged students are the best students!  The 25ish students who enter class all bring some type of emotional baggage with them.  Some come in happy about just passing a math text, some frustrated with their science grade and some completely lethargic.  The Warm Up is my time to engage students and get them ready to learn.  

Students will enter class and read the prompt on the Smart Board:

Good Morning Students!

Please grab your warm up sheet and write for a full four minutes about the following:

Think about a recent argument you have had with a friend or family member.  Did you "win" the argument?  Consider how you would construct a closing argument if you could have the same argument again.  In the first-person, write what you would say to end that argument and have the final word.  



Mini Lesson--What does weak evidence look like?

15 minutes

  Now that we have identified claims and evidence in multiple texts, we are taking the next step in the RI.9-10.8 standard and assessing whether reasoning is valid and evidence is sufficient.  To prepare students for this task, I pull a recent news story in my local paper and project it on the Smart Board so students can review the comments section and evaluate those arguments. In this video I explore How do we show students what poor evidence looks and sounds like.The comments section is usually full of arguments and evidence that aren't based in solid reason, but rather they are emotional, knee-jerk reactions to controversial topics/news stories.  We discuss why these comments aren't valid reasoning.  We also discuss what sufficient evidence would look/sound like.  Please note: I didn't link a news story here because most news sources don't censor their comments section.  I didn't want to be responsible for the comments after I posted the article.  Please preview all comments before sharing with students. 


Student Work Time-----Reading Assessment

25 minutes

Now that students have seen what poor evidence sounds like, they will evaluate an argument from a classic literary text. The timer will be set for seven minutes while students examine Atticus Finchs' closing argument from Chapter 20 of To Kill A Mockingbird.  In groups, students will read the text, identifying Atticus' claim(s) and evidence to support those claims (RI.9-10.8).  


Highlight in yellow each claim that Atticus makes

Highlight in pink each reason he gives

Highlight in green each piece of evidence he explains to support the reasons/claims.

After they are finished, I will ask students to decide what evidence, if any, isn't sufficient and needs to be revised.  I will ask them to work together, in their groups, on this task.  After they are finished, each table will share out their findings (SL.9-10.1a, b, c).  






10 minutes

I tell students,

Now that you are finished evaluating Atticus' closing argument, I want you to write a paragraph explaining how he uses rhetoric to advance his argument.  How does he win over the jury, the crowd and us, as readers? Use textual evidence to support your analysis. (RI.9-10.8, RI.9-10.1, W.9-10.10)

Turn your writing in when finished.