Looking Elsewhere: Collecting Data from Other Sources

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SWBAT interview other students to collect support for their essays.

Big Idea

Sometimes, other people can provide information or stories that help a writing support their thesis in a stronger way.


5 minutes

One way that writers support their thesis is by using stories as anecdotes. They can be personal stories or stories from others. For this lesson, I lead students through writing stories and determining if those stories are strong enough. If they are not strong enough to fully and completely support their thesis then they have to decide to go elsewhere. 

Main Activity

45 minutes

I model how to write stories by revisiting my thesis an the reasons I have to support them. I then think about the stories I could tell from my life that might support the thesis. I intentional set up one that is supported very well with a personal story, one where the personal story matches but isn't very strong, and one where I do not have a personal story to support the idea. 

For each example, I ask myself, does this story give a good example of the reason or how the reason supports my thesis? If not, what kind of story might be useful? Then I imagine who might be able to give me that story. If my topic is about children getting more exercise, I might want to ask a student in class who plays a sport outside of school. I can ask them about their athleticism and whether or not they feel like they are getting a workout when they go to practice. 

For the last example, I can't think of a personal story and I may not be able to get the information I need from a student. Therefore, I may need to go to the internet, magazine, or newspaper to find the information I need. Most importantly, before researching, I think about what I need to have for an anecdote and after researching, I ask myself whether or not that information was useful.

I may have one more reason to support my thesis and I ask students to think of interview questions that might help them ask the right type of questions. Then they ask their partners those questions. After the practice, I ask a few students to share what information they have collected that may help support my thesis.

Now they will get a chance to do this work with their own writing.


5 minutes

Finally, once students have collected personal stories, stories from their peers, and possibly information from other resources, students get a chance to share with the class. I ask students to give an example of a piece of information or an anecdote and how it helped their writing. Students realize, through the share, that the more diverse anecdotes and ideas they have the stronger their writing might be. They also realize that they can include more than one story to support a reason in their essay. This might actually make their writing better, as long as the stories actually support their writing.