Argumentative Writing: Bridging the Gap from Elementary to Middle School with a Lesson on the Boston Massacre

Friday, January 2, 2015: 1:00 PM
Central Park West (Sheraton New York)
Shennan Hutton, California History-Social Science Project, University of California, Davis
The presentation will begin with a short talk on argumentative writing according the Common Core State Standards.  In order to prepare students for meeting the standards by high school graduation, grade-level standards gradually introduce the elements of argumentative writing in a sequential pattern.  For example, the opinion pieces assigned for K-5 writing transitions to increasingly sophisticated arguments as students progress through the secondary grades.  This session will cover the definitions of claim(s), counterclaims, reasons and evidence and the skills students need to master at each grade level.  Next, audience members will engage in activities from a 5th-grade lesson on the Boston Massacre.  The lesson asks students to answer this historical investigation question: Guilty or innocent?  Did the British soldiers commit murder or act in self-defense on March 5, 1770?  To experience the lesson, the audience will read short excerpts from court testimony and select evidence to support their answer to the historical investigation question.  They will discuss the uses of the 5th-grade opinion writing frame.  Next, the audience will examine an 8th-grade lesson covering the same content, with more sources and longer excerpts.  Their practice will focus on the Evidence Supporting Innocence and Evidence Supporting Guilt chart that helps students determine their claims and articulate the counterclaim.   Finally, the audience will evaluate an 8th-grade argumentative writing frame.
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