TEACHING THE CORE has a great series of blog posts on many aspects of close reading, writing argument and debate.

I also like this video on writing analytical paragraphs. I’ve always believed less is more, so writing tight, to the point paragraphs is a skill worth doing. We don’t have to write full essays to teach important skills of writing.

Here are more youtube videos by this teacher Topics include: writing thesis statements,
analytical writing, dialectical journals and more.


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This is a great way to address so many of of the common core standards and build listening and critical thinking skills.

It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.






Getting Real with Argumentative Writing – From Erica Beeton’s Blog

Entering the Conversation

Most of ya’ll know my friend and colleague Dave Stuart over at Teaching the Core.  A few weeks ago, Stu shared ways that we’re working on supporting students so they can learn to really argue.  I wanted to explore this idea over here as a way to both expand the conversation and invite you all to share your experiences teaching argumentative writing.

Inquiry & Research

During the last two years, I have been researching ways that I can push my students to be better academic writers.  I’m really  fortunate in my district that students come from a rich, narrative writing workshop in the middle school, so my students were entering the high school able to free-write with great stamina.  I’m lucky also because my students are incredibly passionate about big issues (ex. they’ve raised thousands of dollars for Charity:Water in ninth grade World History).  But–even though my students had these strengths–I was noticing that they struggled to clearly organize their ideas, and their writing seemed to lack conviction, despite all that big passion.  It was becoming more and more obvious that the freedom and love of a narrative writing workshop wasn’t transferring to the disciplinary writing being asked of them in their other core subjects, namely the informational and argumentative writing tasks in social studies and science.

So, let’s be honest, this learning gap—which spans this chasm between totally focusing on love and freedom to actually working towards rigor and the realistic demands of life—only hints at the major imbalance facing current adolescent literacy instruction. This year I’d like to explore this imbalance with more than the “Tips” series has allowed me to do so far on the blog.

Today, I’ll just take a small step towards this debate by saying that  ELA teachers, even those who follow a totally free-style writing workshop, have to realize that students need to learn how to take a stance and use textual evidence to support their ideas.   From English and science to art and social studies, all content teachers need to make expository and argumentative writing the major writing focus across all content disciplines.  Continue reading


A Simple, Two-Paragraph Template that Helps Kids to Really Argue

November 3, 2013

In the last post, I shared the new argumentative focus I’m experimenting with for the article of the week (AoW) assignment. Rather than choosing just any type of article, I’m looking for articles that argue.

(By the way, in case you aren’t aware of this, Kelly Gallagher is the person from whose work I first learned about AoWs. More of his work is here.

It’s not exactly the discovery of the polio vaccine, but still, it’s pretty cool.

I like this new focus because one of my key hopes for AoW is that my kids won’t merely become aware of something that’s happening in the world–like, in last week’s article, the growing popularity of largely unregulated e-cigarettes–but that they’ll also see current issues as argumentative conversations, held at water coolers and bus stops and in editorial pages and the blogosphere.

But I want more than that–I also want each article to allow my students to join in on the conversation.

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Continue reading


9th – 12th grade teachers:
Even at the ninth through twelfth grade levels, teachers will find many ways to incorporate Easel-ly into their classroom instruction. A specific vheme (predesigned theme) may help to clarify the meaning behind a particularly difficult text. Meanwhile, these vhemes can also be used by students to bring dull presentations to life. Let’s briefly look at the standards for grades 9 – 12:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Reading presidential speeches and other primary sources is a vital part of the high school reading curriculum. Let’s take a look at how teachers can use Easel-ly’s resources to create an extended response question for students that explores Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.

Once students have read and discussed the speech with their classmates and teacher, a formative assessment (as shown above) can be completed by students to assess their ability to cite and analyze textual evidence from the speech. In doing so, students can choose two direct quotations to cite and explain in their vheme. This directly correlates with CCSS ELA-RI.11-12.1.

Other extension ideas related to this picture book:

Create a vheme on to compare and contrast Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address to his second. Another possibility is to have students choose another president, research their inaugural address, and then compare and contrast this selection to Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Regardless of the choice, makes displaying the information easy and in creative form!

To conclude:
Now, that we have looked at some activities which incorporate and assess CCSS ELA Reading Information Standard 1, it’s time to get started using to make your own handouts, projects, and resources. There are virtually limitless possibilities at Join us next week for more examples of how is correlating with the CCSS ELA Standards to enrich classroom instruction.