Determining Who's to Blame for Romeo and Juliet's Death: Citing Relevant Evidence (Day 2 of 2)

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SWBAT write arguments to support claims in an analysis of Romeo and Juliet, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence from the play and a critical essay by following steps in a graphic organizer that organizes an outline for the essay.

Big Idea

What is "valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence"? My students will discover this today as they search for evidence in the play and in a critical essay to support their arguments.

Getting Started

10 minutes

In the first few moments of class, we will review the last class, wherein we ranked the factors that contributed to the couple's demise and annotated a critical essay on the subject. I will ask that students take out their material from the previous class to use while we outline the essay this hour (W.9-10.1). During this time, I will hand out the prompt and graphic organizer.

Writing Thesis Statements and Counter-Claims

25 minutes

Students will outline the essay, using this graphic organizer to guide them. This is a truncated version of a synthesis essay I work on with my AP Language class. In it, they have to state a claim and back it up with evidence from both the play and a critical essay, which we read together and annotated last class. While this essay is opinion-driven, a successful essay must cite and comment on meaningful evidence.


First students will write their thesis, using their notes from last class as guidance. Before moving on, I will ask every student to share their thesis/precise claim (W.9-10.1a) with the whole class. Then we will tackle the counter-claim. I plan to review what we discussed last class while reading the Kerschen essay, namely that many people and factors attributed to the tragedy, so it is silly to argue that someone or something is solely responsible. The counter-claim will help them acknowledge this reality, while also stating that one person or thing may hold more responsibility than another (W.9-10.1b). After students develop their counter-claims, each person will share that sentence with the group. This process is beneficial in a few ways. First, it builds confidence. It's good to share work that makes you proud, especially in a supportive atmosphere. Sharing also fosters intellectual growth. When students hear how others voice their claims, they may be inspired to make theirs even better.


We have written several long compositions this year and even more shorter, but equally substantial essays, so my students are ready for this assignment. Their writing has improved throughout the year, so I added a few elements to this essay in order to continue to challenge them. The first addition is a second source. So far, students have only quoted from one text, but for this essay, they will cite two sources. However, I think this will be a fairly painless transition. I expect that the trickiest part of this essay will be the counter-argument, which we have not worked on yet. The graphic organizer that we will work on today helps them write a basic counter-argument by starting the sentence for them (W.9-10.1b). Once we begin writing, we will incorporate this counter-argument into the the introductory paragraph and refute it with a strong thesis statement. Throughout the essay, students will work to prove their thesis and discredit the opposing view.

Outlining the Body Paragraphs

20 minutes

After students share their thesis statements and their counter-claims, they will begin to outline the essay. The graphic organizer walks them through all the necessary elements of the body paragraphs: clear thesis and topic sentences (W.9-10.1a), specific quotes and commentary (W.9-10.1b). I mentioned that this is a truncated version of a essay prompt I would give to my AP students; as such, I have also adjusted the length/ structure. This essay will be four paragraphs, instead of the traditional five-paragraph essay. This does not mean that the essay is necessarily shorter. Instead it means that these paragraphs will be longer and thus the length will probably be about the same. I assume that the paragraphs will be longer because students will have to account for their counter-argument in each.


While students are writing, I will walk around and help students develop counter-claims. This is a new skill, so it will take some time to get comfortable with it.

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

For homework, students will finish the outline (if they have not done so in class) and write their introductory paragraphs.