Tag Archives: Forming Evidence Based Claims

English 9 Enriched: Defending Evidence Based Claims and Elevating Diction

My enriched kids are taking the Evidence Based Claims worksheets further than what we are currently doing in 9 Regents.  In this exercise, I put the following on the overhead:

Forming Evidence Based Claims for Frankenstein, Chapters 1-3

Each pair of rows will have one of the three chapters.  For each chapter, there will be students forming Evidence Based Claims about TWO of the following aspects of the narrative (one from column 1 and one from column 2):

Column 1: Characters                          Column 2:  other aspects

Victor’s character (Ch 1-3)                                 The setting in Geneva  (Ch 2)

Victor’s mother’s character (Ch 1-2)              Victor’s family life (Ch 1-2)

Victor’s father’s character  (Ch 1-2)               Victor’s early education (Ch 1-2)

Elizabeth’s character (Ch 2-3)                          Victor’s parents’ visit to the Lake of Como (Ch 1)

Henry Clerval’s character (Ch 2-3)                The effect of the lightning storm on Victor (Ch 2)

Mr. Krempe’s character (Ch 3)                         Victor’s mother’s death (Ch 3)

Mr. Waldman’s character (Ch 3)                      Victor’s ambitions  (Ch 1-3)

Victor’s university education (Ch3)                                                                                                                                                                           The university at Ingolstadt  (Ch 3)


First, I assigned a chapter to each pair of rows.  I gave each pair of students two Forming Evidence Based Claims worksheets, and then I drew class cards so that each student could choose a topic that related to their assigned chapter.  One partner chose from Column 1 for a character in their assigned chapter, and the other chose from Column 2 for some other aspect relating to their chapter.

Once the pairs had their two topics, I set them to work finding textual evidence for the top boxes of their Forming EBC worksheets first.  I told them that claims about characters would involve character traits, and the other claims would be about the significance of the aspect to the novel (either so far or as an element of foreshadowing).  They were to remember the overall setting of the novel: Victor is, throughout the entire book, telling his tale to Robert Walton aboard his ship that is stuck in the ice.  All these are details that Victor has chosen to relate to the captain; WHY are they significant enough for him to mention?

One stipulation, though, was that all claims had to be made using elevated vocabulary.  Since the book we are using contains a huge glossary in the back, and the packet I gave them also includes a vast glossary, they must find stronger, more precise words than “loving”, “caring” (a personal abhorrence), and “nice” (a word the belongs on the Dead List of character traits).  This is a skill we are still working on improving, and I am trying to get them to become more precise in their diction.

Student examples:

Matina Fr 1-3 Victor's Character

Matina attempted to use “vehement” to characterize Victor Frankenstein in Chapter 2.  The class talked about the word choice and thought about whether or not that was a word that really fit Victor’s personality.  We examined her choice of details as well as the claim she was making, and she finally came to choose the word “obsessive” in relation to this work.  I agreed with her choice because that word carried the negative connotation that would go along with the violent outbursts she describes.


James Fr 1-3 Victor's ambition

In order to make a claim about Victor’s ambitions in chapter 2, James used a character trait (“his curiosity”) to formulate his point.  He embedded a quotation from the text as support right in his claim, and his final statement sums up his position well.  What was missing, though, was use of elevated vocabulary.  While I do see that he was getting right to the point of his claim, I would like to have James practice using higher diction that reflects Shelley’s word choices.


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Filed under Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Enriched

English 9 Regents: Part I- Forming Evidence-Based Claims

Days 1-3 (Part I of the Odell unit):

Students independently read/highlighted/annotated (RHA-ed), and I had them paraphrase sentence-by-sentence,  the first two paragraphs of “Apology” by Plato.   I then posed three questions that they had to respond to using only information from the eleven sentences that they’d read.  All responses had to have textual evidence appropriately embedded and cited within them, and students had to explain their answers.  The questions asked were:

1.  What is Socrates accused of?

2.  How does Socrates make it clear that he is innocent?

3.  How does Socrates distinguish himself from other teachers?

After rating their responses (each question was out of 10 points), I returned their papers so that they could use them for the next activity.

We first went over a model of a Forming Evidence-Based Claims worksheet that related to question 2 (the claim made on the model is: Socrates believes that he is innocent).   We looked at how the responder chose three pieces of textual evidence that seemed to go together, explained what he/she thought about each quotation, briefly discussed the connection, and then- finally- made a definite claim about the textual evidence.  I then had the students go head-to-head with a partner, and instructed half the class to work with the claims made in question 1 (above) and the other half to work with question 3.   This way, everyone had something tangible to work with that they had already put some thought into.

Using their paraphrases and responses to the questions, the students then filled out a Forming Evidence-Based Claims worksheet.

Brandon Forming EBC Paragraph 1-2


This is Brandon’s response to question three (How does Socrates distinguish himself from other teachers?).  He needs to work on making a stronger claim by telling us HOW, not just THAT Socrates is different.  However, his first two “thoughts” show promise for some decent support.  The third “thought” shows that he didn’t really get what Socrates was saying about teachers and being paid.  I will give Brandon this feedback that I am putting here, and then I will look for growth in his next Forming EBC worksheet for paragraphs 3-6.



Robby Forming EBC Paragraph 1-2

This is Robby’s response to question 1 (What is Socrates accused of?).  In this claim, you can see that Robby takes the extra step of giving more than one thing that Socrates is accused of.   His claim has more “meat” to it than Brandon’s; however, his first choice of details to support the claim is taken out of context.  I will suggest that he stick to stronger textual evidence to better back up his claim.


Just before they began work, I asked the students to examine the language in the left-hand column of the worksheet.  The first box tells them to “Find details” in the text.  This is something I have asked them to do all year, except that I used different phrasing.  In previous textual exercises (such as with Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech in Act I, scene iv of Romeo and Juliet), I had asked them to write down ten things they SEE in his speech (quotations) that reveal something about Mercutio’s character.  This is the same exercise using a preformed worksheet instead of just a list from 1-10 (I usually make them come up with ten details, share their ideas with a partner, and check off the things they have in common because those are usually the obvious details).  This worksheet asks for three.

The second box tells them to “Connect the details” and explain what they think about what they have selected.  I have also asked students to come up with three things they THINK about what they have seen/heard/read in any of the activities.   For the Romeo and Juliet exercise mentioned above, students had to come up with three things they thought about Mercutio’s character based on the text they selected.

The last box asks students to “Make a claim” about what they have written.  This is a variation of the final piece of a Visible Thinking activity that we have worked with all year… what the student WONDERS based on what he has read and thought.

Once I explained the worksheet as a SEE/THINK/WONDER exercise, the students had a much easier time determining what it was that they were supposed to put in the boxes.   Also, because we have done this exercise routinely throughout the year, I saw fairly strong responses as opposed to the ones in the model provided by Odell.

Based on the correlations above, it is my claim that whoever created this worksheet has some training or background in Visible Thinking activities.


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Filed under Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Regents, Visible Thinking

English 9 Regents: Lesson Plan Breakdown for Plato’s “Apology”

Based on the unit created by Odell Education (see link in a previous post), I outlined a breakdown of the lessons and activities relating to Evidence Based Claims (EBCs):

Plato’s “Apology”- daily lesson plans

(Broken down from the on-line unit from Odell Education)


 Day 1- Part I (activities 1 and 2):

  • Intro to materials and the unit (10-15 min)
  • Independent reading paragraphs 1 and 2 ONLY (RHA) and then PARAPHRASE the two paragraphs sentence by sentence (P1=9, P2=2).  To demonstrate understanding, students must put Plato’s words into their own.  Any new/unfamiliar words go in the boxes at the bottom with definitions.
  • Once paraphrased, answer the question:  What is Socrates accused of?  Determine specific parts of the text that make you think so and add embedded quotations to your response.  Citation will be (Plato, line ___).
  • Finish for homework: will be collected


Day 2-Part I (activity 3):

  • Teacher reads aloud paragraphs 1 and 2 that students have already paraphrased.

Comprehension Quiz:

      1.   What is Socrates being accused of? (already written in the homework)

2.  How does Socrates make it clear that he is innocent?

3.  How does Socrates distinguish himself from other teachers?


  • Students may use homework to complete the questions.  All muse be based on specific textual evidence as support and include embedded quotations.
  • Choose two students and place their paraphrases on the ELMO.  Discuss paraphrases: did students get it in an independent read?
  • Collect and grade (falls under “Reading” in the grade book)


Day 3-Part I (activities I-4 and II-1):

  • Pass out Forming Evidence Based Claims Handout and go over (point out similarities to See/Think/ Wonder that we have done in Visible Thinking exercises).  Point out the “thinking” details; they will need to come up with others that support the same claim (work with partner)
  • Independent reading paragraphs 3-6 (RHA) and then PARAPHRASE the paragraphs sentence by sentence.   To demonstrate understanding, students must put Plato’s words into their own.  Any new/unfamiliar words go in the boxes at the bottom with definitions.
  • Pass out blank Forming Evidence Based Claims worksheets; students complete for paragraphs 3-6
  • Finish for homework; to be collected.


Day 4-Part II (activity 2):

  • Teacher reads aloud paragraphs 3-6 that students have already paraphrased.
  • In partners, students will discuss and write responses to the following questions:
    • 1. What does the oracle say about Socrates?
    • 2. What does Socrates do in an attempt to test the truth of the oracle’s prophecy?
    • 3.  Why do Socrates’ actions incite the anger of his peers?
    • All responses must include embedded quotations as supportive evidence (taken from the Forming EBC sheets)
    • Collect paraphrases and Forming EBC worksheets (reading grade) and answers to questions (analysis grade)
    • Choose two students and place their paraphrases on the ELMO.  Discuss paraphrases: did students get it in an independent read?


Day 5-Part II (activity 3):

  • Briefly discuss responses to questions from previous day (use ELMO)
  • Pass out Making Evidence Based Claims handout and go over
  • Go over Clarity Checklist (in packet)
  • Students must make claims about what they have read so far (paragraphs 1-6)
  • Pass out blank Making EBC worksheet for them to fill out
  • Making EBC worksheet due for homework; to be collected (analysis grade)


Day 6-Part II (activities 4 and 5):

  • Check HW for completion and pass out 2 Post-It notes (different colors) for a Visible Thinking exercise
  • First color Post-It: one claim that they made (from HW)
  • Second color Post-It: best piece of evidence that supports the claim (from HW)
  • Face partners: exchange Making EBC worksheets.  Make notes (on clean sheet of paper) of how well the worksheet stands up to the checklist, being sure to comment on each of the criteria.  When finished, verbally share the critique with partner.
  •  Collect Making EBC worksheets and critiques (analysis grade)


Day 7-Part III (activity 1):

  • Read paragraphs 7-11 independently.  RHA and put the paragraphs into your own words; not a summary, but a rephrasing (does not have to be sentence by sentence this time).
  • Fill out Forming EBC and Making EBC worksheets for paragraphs 7-11
  • Complete for homework



Day 8- Part III (activities 3 and 4):

  • Check homework for completion-  Forming EBC (reading grade)and Making EBC (analysis) for paragraphs 7-11; students will use the HW to do today’s work
  • On the overhead, ask students to copy questions to ponder about making claims:

–          1. What do I mean when I make this claim?  What am I trying to communicate?

–          2. How did I arrive at this claim?

–          3. Can I point to the specific words and sentences in the text from which the claim arises?

–          4. What do I need to explain so that an audience can understand what I mean and where my claim comes from?

–          5. What evidence (quotations) might I use to illustrate my claim?  In what order would I use them?

–          6.  When my claim contains several parts (signposts), how can I break it down. organize the parts, and organize the evidence that goes with them?

–          If my claim involves a comparison or a relationship, how might I present, clarify, and organize my discussion between parts or between texts?

  • Pass out Organizing Evidence Based Claims handout and go over.  Be sure to point out that each claim has more than one part (signpost)
  • Pass out Organizing Evidence Based Claims worksheets.  Students use claims from their homework, expanding upon them to include more than one point (see model in handout) and complete the worksheet.
  • Finish worksheet for homework


Day 9- Part III (Activity 5):

  • Check Organizing EBC worksheet for paragraphs 7-11 homework for completion
  • Go over the Checklist (in packet) before pairing up
  • Each student must verbally present his/her claims and evidence to a partner, attempting to convince the partner that their claim is correct.  Partners listen and then formulate (in writing) three questions about the claim, based on what they have heard.   Partners then switch roles.
  • After both partners have spoken, and they have handed over their written questions to the other, each will then write a written answer to each of his/her partner’s questions.   Students must use citations from the text to support their clarifications.
  • Written responses to questions will be finished for homework; to be collected with Organizing EBC worksheet


 Day 10- Part IV (activity 1):

  • Collect Organizing EBC for paragraphs 7-11 along with the responses to partner questions  (analysis)
  • Read paragraphs 12-17 (end) independently.  RHA and put the paragraphs into your own words; not a summary, but a rephrasing (does not have to be sentence by sentence this time).
  • Fill out Forming EBC and Making EBC worksheets for paragraphs 12-17; complete for homework


Day 11- Part IV (activities 2 and 3):

  • Check homework (two worksheets): Forming EBC (reading) and Making EBC (analysis) for paragraphs 12-17
  • Complete Organizing EBC worksheets for paragraphs 12-17, using HW as help
  • Turning Organizing EBC sheets into a written response:
    • Read through Writing EBC criteria handout (in packet)
    • Pass out the model for Writing EBC and compare to the model for Organizing EBC handout.  Note how the worksheet lent itself to creating the writing piece.
    • In pairs, students will create a three paragraph piece based on the model (paragraph one makes the claim with two points, while paragraphs two and three explain the points with textual evidence respectively)
    • Must finish for homework; to be collected


Day 12- Part IV (activities 4 and 5):

  • Collect Organizing EBC worksheets for paragraphs 12-17 and written responses
  • Using the ELMO, place student responses on the overhead for class discussion.  Class will then use the criteria for Writing EBC from their packets to critique student work.
  • Students will then turn to the rubric in the packet, and rate each piece that they have seen on the overhead.


Day 13- Part V (activities 1 and 2):

  • Students will go through all notes and completed worksheets for the entire piece.  They will review the text and make a new claim based on the overall piece (cannot be a claim they have previously made).
  • Students will complete a new Organizing EBC worksheet for the entire piece using the THREE POINT claim worksheet instead of the TWO POINT claim sheet they had used earlier.  This worksheet is in the packet.
  • Students will now be using three points (signposts) to support their new claim
  • Finish worksheet for homework



Day 14- Part V (activity 4):

  • Check Organizing EBC worksheet for completion for the entire text
  • Students will use the Organizing EBC worksheet in order to create their final written responses.  These must now be four paragraphs and will follow the criteria listed on the checklists (in packet)
  • Collect written responses at end of class.

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Filed under Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 3: Instruction, English 9 Regents