Making Evidence-Based Claims ELA/Literacy Units empower students with a critical reading and writing skill at the heart of the Common Core: making evidence-based claims about complex texts. These units are part of the Developing Core Proficiencies Program. This unit develops students' abilities to make evidence-based claims through activities based on a close reading of the Commencement Address Steve Jobs delivered at Stanford University on June, 2005.
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In this module, students are involved in a deep study of mythology, its purposes, and elements. Students will read Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief (780L), a high-interest novel about a sixth-grade boy on a hero’s journey. Some students may be familiar with this popular fantasy book; in this module, students will read with a focus on the archetypal journey and close reading of the many mythical allusions. As they begin the novel, students also will read a complex informational text that explains the archetypal storyline of the hero’s journey which has been repeated in literature throughout the centuries. Through the close reading of literary and informational texts, students will learn multiple strategies for acquiring and using academic vocabulary. Students will also build routines and expectations of discussion as they work in small groups. At the end of Unit 1, having read half of the novel, students will explain, with text-based evidence, how Percy is an archetypal hero. In Unit 2, students will continue reading The Lightning Thief (more independently): in class, they will focus on the novel’s many allusions to classic myths; those allusions will serve as an entry point into a deeper study of Greek mythology. They also will continue to build their informational reading skills through the close reading of texts about the close reading of texts about the elements of myths. This will create a conceptual framework to support students’ reading of mythology. As a whole class, students will closely read several complex Greek myths. They then will work in small groups to build expertise on one of those myths. In Unit 3, students shift their focus to narrative writing skills. This series of writing lessons will scaffold students to their final performance task in which they will apply their knowledge about the hero’s journey and the elements of mythology to create their own hero’s journey stories.
In this eight-week, research-based module, students explore the benefits and harmful consequences of the use of the controversial pesticide DDT. In Unit 1, students begin the novel Frightful’s Mountain (640L) by Jean Craighead George. Students will read closely to practice citing evidence and drawing inferences from this compelling text as they begin to think about the interactions between people and the natural world. They also will read informational texts and watch videos to gather evidence and trace arguments about the uses, benefits, and harmful consequences of DDT, its affects on the environment, and its use in the battle against malaria. At the end of this unit, students will participate in a Fishbowl discussion to begin to articulate their evidence-based opinions about the central question: “Do the benefits of DDT outweigh its harmful consequences?” In Unit 2, students will read the remainder of the novel, focusing on the how the main character, Frightful, is affected by the actions of other people and her own interactions with the natural world. Students also will engage in a research project, continuing to explore the central question of the module. Students will read several complex texts, both print and digital, in order to collect relevant information in a structured researcher’s notebook. To help them grapple with this issue, students learn a decision-making process called “Stakeholder Consequences Decision-Making” (see the end of this document for details). This process will help students understand the implications of various choices, and will scaffold their ability to determine—based on evidence and their own values—what they believe can and should happen. Unit 2 culminates with students synthesizing all their reading thus far in order to make and present their own evidence-based claim about the use of DDT. In Unit 3, students choose the most compelling evidence and write a position paper in which they support the claim they made (at the end of Unit 2). As a mid-unit assessment, students will submit their best draft of this position paper. As an end of unit assessment, students will submit a published copy, as well as a reflection on the writing process. As the final performance task, students share their findings by creating a scientific poster and presenting that poster to peers during a hosted gallery.
This activity emphasizes the importance of teaching reading and writing strategies for students to use with informational text.
The students will explore, research, and become more knowledgeable in various careers in science. Students will apply this knowledge by creating a lab, hands-on activity, visual, or video. Opportunity for student choice is provided and creativity to apply their understanding is given.
This 18 day unit explicitly teaches text structures, summary, text features, reading informational text about Mesopotamia, and writing a book about Mesopotamia. Instruction moves from high scaffolding to moderate scaffolding to independent practice as students become familiar with the various text structures, how to identify them, what graphic organizer will work with each text structure, how to use notes recorded in graphic organizers to write summaries, and how to compile an informational book. Mesopotamia is the content used as an anchor.
Use wordless picture book, Mirror by Jeannie Parker, to teach writing skills. Even though this lesson is aligned to 6th grade, it can be used across grade levels.