Mastery of Knowledge & Skills - Claim 3:
Literacy - Writing with Evidence
Students probe the text of the "Narrative of Fredrick Douglass,” in order to accurately find substantial support to back their claim on the paradox of education. Students collect evidence on this important theme in the work, using post-its to capture quotes in perspectives on both sides of the argument.
Analyzing High-Leverage Evidence
Once students have collected evidence throughout the book, they analyze these quotes in order to sort them by different perspectives and identify high-leverage evidence to support both sides of the argument. Students use a table to document location, quote, gist, context, and how the evidence would be best used to back the particular claim. Students do this for both perspectives.
Practicing Evidence Based Writing
Students learn the value of going back to the text, increasing understanding of each perspective, and linking quotes to claim. Students choose a perspective and dissect a quote practicing writing with evidence.
Writing the Argument Essay
The prompt reads: Although Frederick Douglass understands that the only path to freedom, both for himself and fellow slaves, is through learning to read, write, and have an educational base to build on, he is at the same time disgusted with education because it causes him to understand the full extent of the horrors of slavery. At one point, he states, “It [education] opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but offered no ladder upon which to get out”.
Using this quote as a starting point, students choose a position from which to write their argument supported by evidence. They make their claim considering if Douglass ultimately views education as the most important thing or as something that is fraught with danger and disappointment.
Students organize with detail solidifying understanding and emphasizing the importance of using evidence to support their claim.
Students understand the expectations by dissecting and using the rubric throughout the process.
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The Fredrick Douglass Essay - An Argumentative Paper in 8th Grade Humanities
by Phoebe Schaab (REALMS Humanities Teacher)
Throughout all three years at REALMS students focus on tasks that embrace writing with evidence and grappling with complex texts. Our goal is to give students the ability to develop tools for approaching these complex texts and then justifying their understanding with evidence. This is our last opportunity before they enter high school to inspire students with the confidence and skills they need when tackling a seemingly “impossible” text. I want them to be tenacious and recognize that this higher order thinking skills must be grasped.
8th graders start the year by reading a challenging essay and applying the Close Read Protocol (initially learned in 6th grade) with an emphasis on using evidence to support their understanding of the text. As the year progresses, students dig deeper into the skills required to write with evidence, culminating with a challenging assessment based on an analysis of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Throughout this independent assessment, students analyze the theme of education in Douglass’ autobiography and collect evidence related to that theme. They learn what it means to make a claim and justify it using textual evidence. Students then practice creating an argument from multiple perspectives on the claim and discover that they can be successful as long as they support it with strong, relevant evidence.
In preparation for the assessment students select evidence for both sides of the argument and organize a plan to begin the writing process. Students are then assigned one side of the argument and tasked with writing an essay using evidence to prove their claim. They complete this complex task independently. A task like this requires well-developed higher order thinking and literacy skills combined with an unrelenting determination.