Sins of the Father: Identifying Claims and Counterclaims to Develop a Balanced Argument

4 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT write the introduction of an argument essay by identifying the claims and counterclaims based on their position on an issue.

Big Idea

Should we chase away the sins of our fathers or welcome them with open arms? My students will tell you!


Today is Part One of our Summative Assessment Day!

My students and I have been working toward fulfilling the W.9-10.1 standards for several lessons, starting at the Warmup for Lesson #5.

I created this performance task (abridged) which is aligned to W.9-10.1a and W.9-10.1b because I wanted my students to understand the components of an argument, and how to develop the introduction for an argument essay. One of the 2013-2014 CityWide Instructional Focus for New York City is that all students will master a specific set of CCSS standards as we make the shift to more rigorous curricula.

My school selected Argumentation. Since we are a transfer school, we elected to focus on two aspects of the standards for 9th Grade (W.9-10.1a and W.9-10.1b) because W.9-10.1a sets up the components of a balanced argument and W.9-10.1b focuses on developing a claim based on the evidence cited for the claim. Both W.9-10.1a and W.9-10.1b encompasses the development of the structure of the essay.

The performance task (unabridged) includes additional CCSS. W.9-10.1c focuses on the use of transition words and phrases to link sections of the text and to explain ideas expressed in the text, W.9-10.1d focuses on style, tone and conventions, and W.9-10.1e focuses on developing a conclusion, as  a staff we felt once our students understood the fundamentals of the essay and could create paragraphs for W.9-10.1a and W.9-10.1b, introducing the standards (W.9-10.1c, W.9-10.1d and W.9-10.1e) would be less intimidating because they are now able to learn and to practice these skills with self-created text. 

We used the persuasive essay rubric from ReadWriteThink to develop the assessment.  

I am going to see how my students will react to the performance task (abridged). Are they ready to create an argument about the sins of the father and how the children should react when they are visited by these sins?


Warmup + Share

15 minutes

For the Warmup, my students will be reflecting on a statement Rose made regarding the sins of the father. In the text, Rose says, you can’t visit the sins of the father upon the child. A motherless child has a hard time.”

My students will be interpreting the text focusing on the identity of the father who committed the sins (Whose sins was she talking about?) and the effect of the sins on the father's children (How has the sins of this person Rose is talking about affected the child?)



This task is aligned to RL.9-10.3 and RL.9-10.2 and W.9-10.10 because my students will be examining how the theme (sins of the father) applies to Troy and his adulterous relationship with Alberta which led to the birth of Raynell and the death of Raynell's mother. This is the most central example of the theme, which means my students will be able to consider a position on the issue presented in the performance task after completing the Warmup.


After my students record their responses, they will share them with the class. This is aligned with SL.7.1a and SL.7.1c because they will be giving their opinions, agreeing or disagreeing with their peers and asking questions of their peers.

I am including a sample of student work: Student Sample for Warmup


Engagement (Brainstorming)

25 minutes

For this part of the lesson, my students and I will be connecting Rose’s quotation to the other characters in the play. So, we will be extending our discussion from the share.


I chose to start with Rose because most of my students identify with her pain, especially after Troy refused to leave Alberta in Lesson #9.


We will be looking at which characters in the text had sins that affected their children and how the sins of these parents affected their children. This task is aligned to RL.9-10.2.and RL.9-10.1 since students will be using evidence form the text to support their opinions


If time permits we will chart our responses. If not, students will select their characters from a list on their worksheet for the engagement (sins of the father) and record their thoughts about each character as well.


I am including a sample of student work: Sins of the Father

Introducing Steps for Argument Introduction

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, my students and I will be looking at the steps for writing an introduction for an argumentative essay.This task is aligned to W.9-10.1a. The students will be using evidence from the text to support their reasons. 

We will be following the following format:

Step#1. Identify the issue


When the sins of our father visit us as children, should we play host and entertain them or should we reject them and chase them away?



Step#2. Choose a side: We should play host to the sins of our father and entertain them  OR  We should reject the sins of our father and chase them away:




Step #3. Identify reasons for your side:


We should play host to the sins of our father and entertain them


Reason #1:

Reason #2:

Reason #3:



We should reject the sins of our father and chase them away:

Reason #1:

Reason #2:

Reason #3:


Step #4. Identify one reason for the other side and write it on your paper.


I am including a sample of student work: Introduction


Writing + Self-Reflection

30 minutes

Need for Literacy Instruction:

For this part of the lesson, my students will be writing their introduction for the argument essay using the outline for argument introduction given in class. I will be conferring with students who need my assistance reviewing the components of the paragraph as well as giving feedback on their progress so far.

If time permits, students will complete a self evaluation based on the components or criteria for an introduction paragraph of an argument essay. I have the students participate in self-reflection so that they can assess for themselves where they are in terms of the standard. These tasks are aligned to W.9-10.1a

I am including a sample of student work:    Introduction + Self Evaluation