The next part of the Evidence-Based Claims unit is Organizing Evidence-Based Claims. As I looked over this particular worksheet, I noticed a similarity to work that I have done previously when we worked on the research papers. The Organizing Evidence-Based Claims worksheet allows for an expanded claim that includes two points, and then the two points are separated out so that evidence may be given in support of each point. This is like the thesis statements we created during the research project. Students had to make a claim (take a position) about a topic, and then back it up with two reasons (signposts) why the reader should agree with them.
What I have here is the progression of two students from Forming EBCs, to Making EBCs, and finally Organizing EBCs. You can see the growth in the train of thought as they worked through paragraphs 7-12 of Plato’s “Apology.”
Jessica’s progress: Forming EBCs
I questioned Jess’s use of the word “unique” in her claim. What was it she was really trying to say about Socrates at that point? I also asked for pronoun clarification. Who is the “they” she is referring to?
Jessica: Making EBCs
While the first claim may be an improvement over “Socrates is unique…,” the evidence she offers does not support her new claim. Neither evidence #1 or #3 really support how people can “benefit from his teachings.” I asked Jess to go back into the text to come up with stronger evidence if she still wanted to make that claim. The second claim was confusing because of the spelling error (“believes” instead of “beliefs”). I thought this was stronger than either of the original claims, so I asked her to think more deeply about Claim 2.
Jessica: Organizing EBCs
By the time Jessica got to this page, she had re-thought her claim and was able to come up with an expanded version that had to clear points that she could defend. Her textual evidence is also stronger than it had been in the Forming EBC stage. She is now ready to write.
Lauren’s Progression: Forming EBCs
Lauren’s claim is confusing because of the pronoun usage (“them” and “they”) and wordiness. Her thinking and evidence are fine, but she needs to be more concise and precise in her claim.
Lauren: Making EBCs
Lauren amended her claim in the first set, yet I encouraged her to use stronger diction than “killing him would not be a good idea.” She obviously put a lot of thought into her second claim because you can see that she used WhiteOut to make changes. This demonstrates that she is thinking and making adjustments as she is working.
Lauren: Organizing EBCs
Lauren went a bit overboard and tried to incorporate everything from the Making EBC worksheet. The result is a confusing, wordy claim. I am asking her to trim down the wordiness and get to the heart of what it is that she wants to say. I would still like her to rephrase “killing him would not be a good idea.” Once she does that, then Lauren will be ready to write.
Once they have completed the Organizing EBC worksheets and revised them a bit from my feedback, the students went head-to-head with their partners in a dry run of what they intend to write in a paragraph. I asked them to work in pairs, giving impromptu “speeches” to their partners using their claims as the thesis, and the points as signposts. They had to attempt to convince their partner to agree with their claim.
The partners, while they were listening, had to decide whether or not they were convinced to agree with the speaker and then back that up with reasons why (or why not). They had to refer to the textual evidence given as support for the argument to determine its strength and clarity. They also had to critique the speaker’s argument for its logic and progression. Finally, the listener had to write down three clarifying questions for the speaker. The homework for the speaker , then, was to write a response to the three questions while also revisiting his/her argument in preparation for an essay.
The partners then reversed roles so that everyone left the room with three questions to answer. When they come in next class, they will be permitted to use the worksheets, their question responses, and their text to write an essay in support of their chosen claim.