This lesson is taught after students have had several days working with the same piece of complex text. The piece of text is a personal essay written by Julia Alvarez, illustrating how the author struggled with her cultural identity during the mid-1900's in the United States. Students have spent time reading the text multiple times and discussing the big ideas of the text; in this lesson, students are making claims about the text, finding text evidence to support their claims, and explaining how the text evidence proves their claim. The text in this lesson can often be found in libraries or at online bookstores. If you need support finding this text, please reach out to us by clicking the “send feedback” button below.
Evidence-Based Assertions (Emerick)Download
The task for the day is attending to how the character has changed over the course of the text. Students will be required to find evidence from the text to prove their conclusions about their reading. The teacher walks them through the different aspects of the complex question so they better understand what is required.
The teacher comes up with a "thin" example of elaboration/explanation of text-based evidence and then has students discuss whether or not this is an appropriately complex elaboration. This sets up the rest of the activity, requiring that students choose appropriate evidence and elaborate their thinking sufficiently. Students quickly assess that the statement should be more deeply elaborated upon, and even develop ways to make it better.
After students discuss why the teacher's first example is not sufficiently elaborated upon, she provides another example, this time much stronger, to help them determine how to have a truly effective claim.
Students have a superficial understanding of the task; the teacher asks the key question that brings them to a deeper understanding of the task and the big idea from the text, while refusing to do any of the cognitive lift for them.
The task allows for deep student thinking about the text, as well as text-based assertions. Students use the text, respectfully question each other's thinking, and require precision from each other, especially when they evaluate the quality of the quotes that they have chosen so far as evidence. Students do not let the difficult vocabulary slow them down or prevent them form gleaning meaning from the text.
The student is reluctant to venture a piece of evidence to prove her claim. The teacher insists that she work independently from the text, instead of giving her the answer, then challenges her to discuss the evidence with her group.
Through a series of questions with various groups, the teacher asks students to evaluate the accurateness of their answers and thinking about the text. When she notices a few groups struggling, she redirects the entire class.
The students are discussing their evidence and are actually coming to different conclusions about the text based on the task, working with the text, and the discussion. They are able to explain why they have come to the conclusions that they have reached.
Students explain their thinking as the teacher questions them, helping them to come to a deeper understanding of the text and their conclusions.
Students are sharing out the conclusions of their work time. As they are sharing, the teacher asks a series of clarifying questions to make their thinking more transparent to the rest of the class.