Argument Writing Practice

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SWBAT to produce two paragraphs in support of or against a claim found in Part One of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Big Idea

Students branch outside of the text to defend their stance.

Whole Group Focus Question Debriefing

30 minutes


I've allotted the first thirty minutes of class for whole-group focus question debriefing of Part One of To Kill a Mockingbird.  I want to be sure that there are a few characters and events from this section of the novel that we have addressed as a whole group before we move into Part Two.  Such characters and events include:

  • Jem's pants being stitched up
  • The additional items found in the knothole
  • Nathan Radley filling the knothole with cement
  • Miss Maudie's fire
  • Scout's fight with Francis
  • Atticus and the rabid dog
  • Mrs. Dubose
  • Jem's coming-of-age

I know that many of these topics were broached in the previous lesson, as my students worked on their focus questions in their groups.  I want to be certain that all of my students have explored what I've listed above, having the benefit of discussing and listening to the whole group's contributions. With so much to cover, and knowing my students' penchant for whole-group discussion, this may take longer than thirty minutes.

Argument Writing Practice

40 minutes


When the whole-group review feels sufficient, we will move into an additional way to maintain the focus on Part One of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is my focus for the week.  I have compiled a list of six key quotes from that section of the text and will challenge my students to continue practicing their argument writing skills by selecting one of the quotes with which to work.

I distribute a copy of the quotes to each of my students and I explain that they will be selecting one of them with which they either agree or disagree.  They will then develop two paragraphs that address two separate reasons, supported by evidence and examples, for their stance.   For this assignment, however, I want them to use evidence and examples from outside of the text (as opposed to the way they supported their theme essays from our Of Mice and Men unit with evidence and examples found within the text).  These are practice argument paragraphs, to be developed in their classroom spiral notebooks, as though they would be potential body paragraphs in a complete essay:

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As a final task, my students will then develop either one additional paragraph or a rhetorical square that analyzes the strategies they have used in their two paragraphs. 

I ask student volunteers to read each quote out loud so that we can discuss the context under which each quote occurs in the text as a whole group.  After this review, I have my students copy down a step-by-step paragraph development procedure as a small set of notes in their notebooks.  

The remaining time is then devoted to getting started.  I circulate the room, working with any students who request help.  There will not be time to share work with the whole group, so this is reserved for the following lesson.