Evaluating Appropriate Evidence
Note: This lesson plan will work best in a computer lab where you can project excerpts of academic essays and student work as they write it.
Lesson objective(s): Evaluating appropriate evidence.
Total estimated time: 85 minutes
Additional outcome(s): Students will develop a better sense of what they are arguing by debating the merits of their evidence.
Course work or assignment underway: “Analyzing Scientific Discourse” essay.
Work and/or reading completed before class:
Students will have written a 150-word summary of two articles from Understanding Scientific Prose. They will also write another 150 words identifying two elements that they thought were particularly strong about the essay and one or two that they thought were weaker, problematic, unhelpful, or wrong.
Sequence of Classroom Activities:
1. Have the students arrange themselves in groups according to which essay they would like to discuss (it should be one they’ve already written about for homework) (5 minutes).
2. Have them each locate in the text the key moments that pinpoint the strong and/or weak elements of the text they have already listed. These should ideally be no more than a sentence or two and can be as small as a single word or phrase. They should be able to articulate to their group why they chose that moment and so should jot down their thoughts about it as they’re looking over it by themselves (5 minutes).
3. Have them pass around summaries and elements until they’ve all read each other’s. Have them a) come to a consensus about what they essay is arguing, b) list the interesting textual moments – are any of them in common with other members of the group? c) Discuss the commonly chosen moments with the rest of the group – see if they can develop their thoughts about these moments together (20 minutes).
4. Come back together as a group and have a volunteer from each group describe for the class what they came up with (10 minutes)
5. Lead a discussion in which the students begin to articulate how they might incorporate these excerpts into their essay (15 minutes).
6. Have the students write a short paragraph using the evidence they’ve found (15 minutes).
7. Have a student volunteer his/her paragraph and lead a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of essay and the choices of evidence as a group. [If you’re in a computer lab, the student can email this paragraph to you for projection of group editing at the front of the room. I recommend using “track changes” function in Word.] (20 minutes).
Download: Evaluating Appropriate Evidence (doc)