Review Learning Targets (3 minutes)
Work Time Examining a Model Position Paper: First Read and Partner Discussion (20 minutes)
Analyze Model Paper Using Argument Rubric
Closing and Assessment
Exit Ticket: What Will Be the Most Difficult Aspect of Writing This Paper? (2 minutes)
Review Homework (2 minutes)
Look through your research and identify three reasons you will address in your position paper.
This lesson begins the scaffolding toward writing a draft of the position paper, a type of argument essay that will be the Mid-Unit 3 Assessment in Lesson 5. It is important for students to be able to write a clear and coherent position paper (W.7.1). Being able to share their understanding of the arguments they read about in Units 1 and 2, creating their own argument that supports claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence, is an important skill. Writing about what they have read, and likely now feel passionate about, is enjoyable for students, since they now will want to share their well-reasoned arguments with an audience.
In the design of this lesson and the lessons that follow, the following criteria were used to define argument writing, as first introduced in Module 2A/2B, Unit 1, Lesson 13:
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 them before articulating the claim.
The author acknowledges a counterargument in his or her writing.
Since students have written a literary analysis in Unit 1 and an argument essay in Unit 2A/2B, they have already been introduced to how to plan and write an essay, so less scaffolding is provided in Unit 3.
In Unit 2, Students were already been introduced to the prompt and made the claim they will write about in their position paper.
The model position paper is based on the same prompt students will write about—“After researching strategies to improve agricultural and industrial water management, write a position paper that addresses the question: Which category of water management would be a good place to begin? Make a proposal, supporting your reasoning with accurate information and logical reasons”—but addresses improving our personal water management, as opposed to what students will choose, agriculture or industrial use of water. The model was intentionally written about the same topic (water management) that students will write about so that they are familiar with the content. However, the model position paper does not use options in the prompt so as not to provide similar evidence, examples, and information that the student position paper will use.
Teaching Notes (continued)
The writing process for the position paper is similar to that of Module 2A/2B. The rubric for this assignment is based closely on the New York State Grades 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric. Because the students are already familiar with this rubric, the rubric analysis will not be as in-depth as in previous modules.
To provide support, and to remind students that producing thoughtful writing includes revisions (W.7.5), students are introduced once again to the Writing Improvement Tracker, used in Unit 2A/2B. They will return to it multiple times in this unit. The purpose of this is to develop students’ awareness of their strengths and challenges, as well as ask students to strategize to address their challenges. Self-assessment and goal setting helps students take ownership of their learning. To begin, students review the reflections they completed during Modules 1–3 and start the Reflection on Module 4 in this lesson, and then complete it in Lesson 10. Since this is the last formal writing of the year, consider what you will have students do with the completed tracker when they are finished in order to encourage continued reflection.
Remember, writing is really about thinking. To be successful with a writing assignment, students need to know the content well and understand the structure of the paper they are writing. This lesson focuses on understanding the structure of the paper they will write through the lens of the model position paper. Students have already become content “experts” in Units 1 and 2.
Students first read the model paper, “Changing Our Water Ways,” as a reader much the same way they have read other informational texts throughout this module, using an Argument note-catcher. Examining the model position paper first as a reader helps students have a working example of how to structure their content before they begin writing their own paper.
As part of students’ analysis of the model position paper, they will deconstruct the model essay using the same position paper planner that they will begin to use to plan their own writing in the following lesson. Note that there are two questions at the end of the planner about feedback. Students can ignore those questions for this lesson (however, they will be important on students’ own planners later on).
Consider posting the Building an Argument Essay poster from Module 2A/2B. This may be helpful for your more visual learners.
Teaching Notes (continued)
Consider using the Writer’s Glossary from Modules 1–3 to refer to when discussing writing. The goal of the glossary was to build students’ understanding of an argument essay as well as their academic vocabulary. Continued use of the academic vocabulary introduced in other modules will solidify students’ understanding of the meanings of words introduced earlier.
In advance: Make sure students have access to their reflections (Writing Improvement Tracker) from Module 3.
Read through the model position paper, “Changing Our Water Ways.”
Remind students that this tracker has helped them identify what strengths and challenges they have had in writing throughout the year.
Give students several minutes to reflect on and record their strengths and challenges.
Then, ask students to turn to a partner and share their strengths and challenges from the Module 3 essay. Ask them to also talk about how knowing their strengths and challenges will help them write their position paper on water management.
Call on several students to share both strengths and challenges.
Help the class notice that all writers have strengths and challenges, and one key to improving is having a strategy for tackling the challenges.
Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all learners, helping them learn to be metacognitive about their learning. Metacognition, or the ability to understand one’s own thought processes, includes the ability to monitor one’s own learning. Learning how to learn helps all students, but it is often a missing ability in those who struggle.
B. Review Learning Targets (3 minutes)
Have students turn to a partner and quietly read the learning targets out loud to each other. Have each pair briefly discuss which concepts in the targets they think they may experience difficulties with, and which ones they may experience success with. Cold call two or three students to discuss their answers as a whole class.
Meeting Students’ Needs
A. Examining a Model Position Paper: First Read and Partner Discussion (20 minutes)
Remind students that they were introduced to the prompt for their position paper and made their claim during Unit 2. Today they will read a model paper that was written not to that prompt, but to one that was similar. Remind students that in their focus question, they have chosen between agriculture and industry and that the model position paper argues that personal water use should be where we begin.
Having a model will help students know what is expected because it is an example of a good paper.
Distribute the model position paper, “Changing Our Water Ways,” and the Getting the Gist of the Model Position Paper handout. Remind students that they have been using this handout as they have read many of their informational readings in the last two units.
Read the model position paper aloud to students and ask them to read along silently. They don’t need to take any notes for this first read-aloud.
Prepare students to read the model position paper a second time aloud. As students follow along, they should add details to the handout. Remind them that “getting the gist” is about getting the main ideas, not about getting every detail. Assure students that as a class they will examine the paper in further detail using the Tracing an Argument note-catcher and the Argument rubric. In addition, ask students to circle any words they are unsure of or want to talk about.
Read the paper aloud for the second time.
Then, invite students to raise their hands to share any details they found and wrote down.
Next, invite students to share any words they circled. List these words on the Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart. Likely words include those identified above as vocabulary. If students do not mention these words, all of which are strong academic vocabulary, check to see that students do understand the meaning.
Distribute and project the Sustainable Water Management Position Paper Planner. On the projected version, orient students to the six sections of the planner: the introduction, the three body paragraphs, the conclusion, and the counterclaim.
Read the introduction aloud one more time. Before you do so, ask students to go on a “treasure hunt” for the author’s claim, reasoning, evidence, and counterclaim, marking up the introduction as you read.
Consider redistributing the Writer’s Glossary of the NYS rubric used in other modules for students who still struggle with understanding the vocabulary words in the rubric.
Consider selecting students ahead of time to take on the role of responder to the cold call. Students who need practice in oral response or extended processing time can be told the prompt before class begins and prepare for their participation. This also allows for a public experience of academic success for students who may struggle with on-demand questioning, or for struggling students in general.
Work Time (continued)
Meeting Students’ Needs
Cold call four students for their answers:
Claim: “… if we all made some changes in our personal use of water, we could save billions of gallons of water a day, which could help to prevent a water crisis in the future.”
Reasoning: “Since our world has a limited amount of freshwater, and only 1% of the world’s water is drinkable (Darrow), it is important that we save every drop we can so that the world’s water supply is sustainable.” Also: reforming personal use of water is easy, fast, and the foundation of all water use in society.
Evidence: Only 1% of the world’s water is drinkable.
Counterclaim: Some might say that the contribution of one person can’t make a difference.
State that the students need to think about the reasons and evidence the author uses to support her claim. Model the analysis of the first paragraph for the students:
“The author’s first paragraph is all about the ease of reducing the obvious everyday uses of water in the home, such as flushing the toilet. On the planner, I’m going to note ‘Personal reform of water use is simple and easy’ as one of the reasons. I’m also going to fill in the topic sentence at this point.”
“Now, as I look down the first column to see what else the planner wants me to notice, I see three places for ‘Evidence’ and three places for ‘Analysis of Evidence.’ I’m going to model the first one for you now. The paragraph first states that we waste 5.7 billion gallons of water from flushing the toilet—I’ll note that as “Evidence 1.” The paragraph then goes on to analyze, or explain, that all of that water is fresh and potable, which is the problem. I’ll note this in the “Analysis of Evidence 1.”
Ask students to think about what other reasons the author used to support her claim. Have students turn and talk to a partner and write down the reasons they found at the top of each of the Body Paragraphs sections of the planner. Call on students to share these reasons.
Then, invite students to work with a partner and fill out the rest of the planner from the model position paper.
Note two important points: Most, but not all, of the boxes on the planner need to be filled in, especially the “Analysis of Evidence” boxes (sometimes the evidence is clear enough on its own); and occasionally the same sentence can serve two functions and fill two boxes (for example, a piece of evidence that also concludes the paragraph). Ask pairs of students to join another pair in the class and share their planner. Tell them to circle any parts on which they disagree.
Refocus as a whole group and ask a representative from each of these four-student groups to report on any disagreements and help students clarify.
Work Time (continued)
Meeting Students’ Needs
B. Analyze Model Paper Using Argument Rubric (11 minutes)
Distribute the NYS Grades 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric (position paper argument version). Inform students that this is not the whole rubric, but just Column 3 of the rubric.
Display the rubric using a document camera so that all students can see when you are circling or discussing a certain section. Remind students that they have used this rubric on all their major writing assignments so far this year.
Direct students to the first row of the rubric, and let them know that you are looking only at the first two rows today. Remind students that the first row is about how clearly a writer states the claim and supports it, so it corresponds to the discussion they have just had related to the planner. Ask students to read the first bullet in Row 1 silently while you read it aloud: “Clearly introduce the topic and the claim in a manner that is compelling and follows logically from the task and purpose.”
Remind students that the topic is the sustainability of water practices, emphasizing the vocabulary word sustainable/ sustainability.
Ask students to find evidence or a specific place in the model that introduces the topic and the claim, then have them turn and discuss with a partner what they have found.
Call on a student to share a place he or she believes the author introduces the topic and the claim. The student should say something like: “In the first paragraph, it says, ‘It is the individual’s responsibility to take action and make a difference,’” or the student may state both sentences: “It is the individual’s responsibility to take action and make a difference. In fact, if we all made some changes in our personal use of water, we could save billions of gallons of water a day, which could help to prevent a water crisis in the future.”
Point out to students that this is a clear position statement, or claim, and it “follows logically from the task and purpose.” Remind them that if something follows logically, it is clearly connected to the ideas before and after it. In this case, it takes two sentences to make the claim, so students may want to consider how they might use sentences to establish their claim in their paper. Note also that the claim clearly addresses the purpose for writing the paper, or the prompt.
Ask students to read the second bullet silently while you read it aloud: “Claim and reasons demonstrate insightful analysis of the text(s).” Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about what they think “insightful analysis” means in this sentence. Cold call on a few students to share out their discussion. Students should say something like: “Claims and reasons should be the most interesting, related, and compelling ideas that help prove the argument,” or “ The reasons and evidence support and develop the claim, and the writer explains his thinking so that it makes sense to the reader. “Ask students to discuss why the claims and reasons they chose on their planner are or are not evidence of an “insightful analysis.”
Work Time (continued)
Meeting Students’ Needs
Ask students to read the third bullet silently as you read it aloud: “Acknowledges counterclaim(s) skillfully and smoothly.”
Ask students to read through the model until they find a counterclaim acknowledged and think it is done “skillfully and smoothly.”
Have students discuss this with a partner and share out. Students should be able to find this sentence in the introduction: “Some might say that the contribution of one person can’t make a difference, but in a world where water is managed in a sustainable way, we all need to contribute to the solution.”
Invite students to work with a partner to find examples of the bullets in the second row of the rubric. Review with students questions they might ask each other. For example:
What evidence can you find in the text (the model position paper) that shows how the author developed the claim with relevant, well-chosen facts?
What evidence can you find in the text (the model position paper) that shows how the author developed the claim with definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples from the research text(s)?
What evidence can you find in the text that shows how the author consistently used varied, relevant evidence?
What evidence can you find in the text (the model position paper) that shows how the author logically explains how evidence supports ideas?
Call on students to share out the information they shared with one another to the whole class. Consider projecting these under a document camera or creating a display for their answers.