Tag Archives: Making Evidence Based Claims

English 9 Regents: Part II- Making Evidence Based Claims

After having the kids repeat the steps for paragraphs 3-6 of Plato’s “Apology” that they’d done for the first two paragraphs (RHA, paraphrase, answer questions, form EBC), we moved on to the next step in the process: MAKING Evidence Based Claims.

At first I struggled with how this was different from the FORMING Evidence Based Claims worksheet.  It seemed as if the whole thing was redundant, but it’s actually not.

In the first worksheet, students must come to a conclusion AFTER examining the text closely (“I see this; therefore, I am able to claim that.”)  The second worksheet asks the students to make two claims about what they have read first, and THEN go back to look for evidence to support the claims (“I claim this, and this supports what I think.”)   It’s a different type of thinking.

Here are two student examples:

Alyssa Making EBC Paragraph 3-6

Before Alyssa could fill in the claim section of the sheet, she had to think about what she had read.  Since we had done a Forming EBC sheet, she already had one claim in mind to work with.  However, by the time we got to this sheet, she had changed her claims.  These two claims are stronger than her original on her Forming EBC sheet (“Socrates trusts the Gods but finds himself questioning him in terms of him being the wisest or how his devotion to him limits him in life.  He is not most in repute but those who are happen to be way to full of themselves.”)  Her original claim was too wordy, and it was full of confusing pronoun usage.  I asked her to be more concise and precise in making her claims.  As you can see, she did make changes, and the claims are easier to support.


Ethan Making EBC Paragraph 3-6

Before Ethan filled out this sheet, he had not made a claim on his Forming EBC worksheet; the sheet was blank.  Therefore, it gave him no starting point when attempting to make an EBC.  As a result, it is evident that he did not clearly understand what he’d read in those four paragraphs because Ethan claims that “Socrates is the wisest man.”  When pressed to support this claim, Ethan cites the Oracle’s response to the question of whether or not Socrates is the wisest man: “There is no man wiser” (Plato, line 43).  This is where both Ethan AND Socrates got confused.



I drew the little picture on the board (no artist am I), and then I asked the students, “Which of these do you suppose the Oracle really meant?”  and I let them argue a bit about it.  Then I told them what I thought it meant.  By interpreting the Oracle’s words to mean that since “there is no man wiser” (Plato, line 43), then Socrates must be the wisest man on earth, that is jumping to conclusions.  What both Socrates and Ethan need to learn is to really pay attention to the words that the Oracle used.   What Socrates later learned after going around and questioning different people and testing their wisdom against his and coming to the conclusion that these so-called wise people were no wiser than he was, and he did not consider himself at all wise, then there IS no man wiser than Socrates or any other man for that matter.   This kind of “taking things literally” and jumping to conclusions is actually the kind of thinking that this whole “Evidence Based Claims” unit is all about addressing.  I may not have been very pleased when I first saw the choice for this unit because I really thought that it was going to be too far above the heads of 9th graders.  After beginning to work with it, I am very happy to report that I do think this is an appropriate piece, and I will use it again in the future.


After the students finished their Making Evidence Based Claims worksheets, the next class I gave each student two Post-It notes using two colors (one for “Claim” and one for “Evidence”).  I asked them to look over the Making EBC worksheet, and choose the stronger of the two claims they had made and write that claim on their pink Post-It.   Then they had to examine the three pieces of evidence they had found to support that claim, and choose the strongest piece of evidence they had and write that on the yellow Post-It.  Once they had both Post-Its filled out, we were ready to start.

I started by pulling one students name from the deck of 3×5 cards that I used throughout the year (These cards have their names, contact info, textbook numbers, and I keep track of who worked in what group and also what topics they had for research, what Shakespearean speech they memorized, etc).  This is an effective way for me to call on kids so that nobody zones out.  It’s also how I call on “volunteers” when no one raises a hand to answer a question.  Anyhow, after I called on the first student, he/she read the claim on their pink Post-It and stuck it under “Claim” on the front board.  I then asked, “OK, who has the same claim as ___?”  Those with the same claim came forward and put their Post-Its next to the one already on the board.  I then pulled another card, that claim was stuck below the last one.  I once again asked who had the same claim, and the entire process was repeated until everyone had a claim on the board.

Then it was time to deal with the evidence.  I read out loud Claim #1 and asked all those who’d made that claim to come forward with their evidence to support the claim (for the first one, five people made that claim, so I had there ended up being five pieces of evidence brought forward).  I had the students read their evidence to the class and post it on the board.  Once we heard all five pieces of evidence (two of them were repeats, so it actually boiled down to three different quotations), I asked the students to decide which of the evidence provided BEST supported the claim.  All those who believed that quote 1 was the best were sent to one corner of the room, those who voted for #2 went to another corner, and the same for quote 3.   I then began with group 1 and asked them to support WHY they thought that particular quotation was stronger than the other two.  Once I had two responses, I turned to the other groups and said, “Ok, go ahead and tell those folks why YOUR choice of quotation is stronger than theirs.”

For several of the claims, I noticed that we had huge crowds in the corners that had selected the most obvious statements as the strongest support.  For example, five students claimed that “Socrates believes he is not the wisest man.”   Of the evidence, one of the quotations was, “I know that I have no wisdom,” and most students voted that as the strongest piece of textual evidence.  When I asked them how they would expand on the quote to explain how it supports the claim, the best they could come up with was that Socrates came right out and said it.  When I told them that it does not leave much room for analysis to go with the obvious, it led to a pretty good argument… and it ended up being between students, not between me and students.   As we shared evidence, we also drew lines to connect particular quotes that could support one or more of the given claims.  By the time we finished, the board looked like this:

Making EBC Par 3-6

Ultimately what I am trying to do is to get kids to think before they choose quotes to add to their writing as support.  I have been telling them since September about the differences between grades of ground beef.  You can buy 70/30, 80/20, or 95/5.   All can be used to make meatloaf; however, when all is said and done, which pan of meatloaf is really going to end up more of a soggy mess from all the fat?  Everyone agreed that using 70/30 ground beef was going to produce more grease and a smaller meatloaf dinner for the family.   It’s still meatloaf, it’s still edible, but it just isn’t going to be the same, or as healthy, as the 95/5 variety.   That’s how I feel about how they go about choosing supporting evidence for their writing.  I have been saying all year, “Give me the meat, not the fat!”

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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