Grade 8 ELA Module 2A, Unit 2, Lesson 9

Students discussing their work with teacher.

In this lesson, students begin the writing process for the End of Unit 2 Assessment, an argument essay on To Kill a Mockingbird.
In the design of this lesson and the lessons that follow, the following criteria were used to define argument writing:
* The goal of argument writing is for the reader to acknowledge the validity of the claim (not necessarily be persuaded by it).
* Appropriate evidence is used and analyzed logically to support the claim. This evidence is usually organized into reasons.
* The author considers the reasons and evidence for the reasons before articulating the claim.
* The author acknowledges and responds to a counterclaim in his or her writing.
• Lessons 9–11 focus on the thinking that students need to do before crafting their own argument essay. It is important to take this time because argument thinking and writing is hard—in a sense, the writer is trying to work with a complicated question that often has many aspects to consider. First, writers know the issue well, then carefully consider all the relevant ideas before coming up with a good claim. Once they’ve come up with that claim, they acknowledge other ways of thinking about it so that the reader can grasp the full depth of the good thinking the writer is doing.
• The argument essay in this module focuses on crafting a clear, logical argument. This is a writing skill that will be developed further in Module 4 when students will be asked to take this skill one step further as they study argument writing in greater depth.
• The model essay is about the decision that Mrs. Dubose makes to overcome her morphine addiction before she dies. The model essay is intentionally written about the same text (To Kill a Mockingbird) that students also will write about, so that students are familiar with the context. However, the model essay does not use exactly the same examples and information that the student essay will use.
• Students will need the model essay in subsequent lessons, so ask them to keep their copy.
• The writing process for the argument essay is similar to that of Module 1. The rubric for this assignment is based closely on the NY State Grades 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric. Because students are already familiar with that rubric, the rubric analysis built into these lessons will not be as in-depth as it was in Module 1.
• Remember, writing is really about thinking. To be successful with a writing assignment, students need to know the content well and understand the structure in which they will work. Students have been developing a clear understanding of content; today is the day they build their understanding of what an argument essay is.
• There is space on the Supporting Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer for three pieces of evidence per paragraph, but there are only two pieces of evidence per paragraph in the model essay. This is intentionally done in order to allow flexibility in the writing of the essays. It also shows students that the quantity of evidence is not the only thing to consider when supporting an argument—it is more important to have the best possible evidence.

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Common Core Learning Standards

CCLS State Standard
RI.8.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges...
RI.8.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning...
W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

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