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ELA G7:M1:U2:L13

Scaffolding to Essay: Using Details to Support a Claim

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of literary text. (RL.7.1) 
  • I can analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout a literary text. (RL.7.2) 
  • I can accurately use seventh-grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas. (L.7.6)

Supporting Targets

Learning TargetsOngoing Assessments
  • I can make connections between details in A Long Walk to Water.
  • I can describe how these details support the theme of survival in A Long Walk to Water.
  • I can discuss new vocabulary from the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric. 

  • Students’ work on Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer
  • Exit ticket


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A. Entry Task: Introducing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A. Analyzing Model Essay and “Command of Evidence” Row of NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric (10 minutes)

B. Preparing Evidence Part I: Modeling the Use of the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Graphic Organizer (10 minutes)

C. Preparing Evidence Part II: Completing the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Graphic Organizer (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment 

A. Revisiting Learning Targets and Adding to “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” Anchor Chart (3 minutes)

B. Exit Ticket (2 minutes)

4.  Homework

A.  Complete Forming Evidence-Based Claims organizer if necessary. Continue reading in your independent reading book. 

  • This lesson continues the scaffolding for the literary essay students will draft in Lesson 16. To begin the lesson, students continue to clarify vocabulary and meaning in the second criterion of the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing rubric. Working through the rubric as they are building the information for their essays should help them to see the connection between their work and the expectations for their writing. 
  • You may wonder about the repetition with the model essay, but it will help students improve their own writing. You will find that students are reading the model so much (looking for different rubric descriptors each time) that they come close to memorizing it. This is OK! It is the full model—a sort of anchor text, if you want to think of it that way—that helps the kids much more than a rubric. The best of both worlds is when the model is so familiar and so well-annotated with rubric language by the end that kids really do understand the rubric-defined elements of strong writing—because they have a strong example entrenched in their heads.
  • In this lesson, students also complete the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer they started in Lesson 10. This organizer will help them to make connections between their details in order to come to a clear thesis for their essay.
  • Before students continue to work on this organizer, you will model the thinking needed to complete it. You began this modeling in Lesson 10 by filling in the first row of the organizer.
  • In your example, use the survival factors that help Nya meet challenges. Students will be writing about Salva only, but the method and information will be similar for both.
  • In advance: prepare to model using the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer. On the task line at the top, fill in “What factors helped Nya survive?” Then fill in the first row by adding three good details, quotes, and page references that would illustrate factors that helped Nya survive. Think about how you will fill in the rest of the organizer because you will be showing and explaining it to students.
  • Review the Writer’s Glossary and be prepared to provide simple definitions. (This glossary is provided as a part of the Unit 2 overview; the specific words for Lesson 13 are also included in the supporting materials, below).



command, relevant/irrelevant, concrete details, sustain, varied (variety), partially, textual evidence, consistent/inconsistent, minimal, valid/invalid 

NOTE: Words are from Row 2 of the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric.

  • Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan” (from Lesson 11; one per student)
  • NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric (from Lesson 12; one per student)
  • Writer’s Glossary page from Row 2 of the NYS Rubric (one per student)
  • Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (begun in Lesson 10; one per student)
  • Document camera
  • Survival anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • A Long Walk to Water (book; one per student) 
  • What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart (begun in Lesson 11)
  • Half-sheet of paper for exit ticket (one per student)



A. Entry Task: Introducing Learning Targets. (5 minutes)

  • As students enter the classroom, ask them to read the learning targets silently and write down what they think they will be doing in this class based on those targets.
  • Then have them to turn to a seat partner and share what they wrote down.
  • Cold call several pairs to share their predictions. Confirm the predictions that are in line with the lesson agenda.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Analyzing Model Essay and “Command of Evidence” Row of NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing
 Evaluation rubric (10 minutes)

  • Be sure students are sitting with the Discussion Appointment partner you designated for today’s lesson. Ask students to take out their copy of the Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan” and their copy of the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing rubric
  • Say: “Yesterday we looked at the model essay to see how the writer introduced the topic and showed us that he or she understood the book. Today we are going to see how well the writer proved the claim made in the first paragraph.” Remind students that looking at models is something people in many fields do: athletes, artists, architects, etc. It is very helpful to have a clear vision of what success looks like, particularly when you are trying something new or hard. 
  • Focus the class on the model essay. Ask a student to read aloud the last sentence from the first paragraph: “Park’s main character, Salva, is based on a real person who did survive this long journey despite the challenges of the war, the loss of his family, and the hostile environment of Southern Sudan.”
  • Say: “What are the three challenges that the writer points out?” Have a student state these and ask all to number the three challenges of war, losing family, and the environment.
  • Tell students to work with their partner to look for where and how the writer illustrated these challenges. Encourage them to underline one detail per challenge.
  • Cold call a pair for each challenge and have them share one detail that supports the challenge. Then ask students to give a thumbs-up/-down to show if they think the writer supported the claim with good details.
  • Say: “Now, let’s look at the NYS rubric to see if the writer met the criteria for using good evidence. That criteria is in the second row of the rubric, so let’s see what it says.” If needed, review the distinction between rows and columns (something even many adults struggle with!). Ask students to read across Row 2 and circle any words they do not know or are unsure about.
  • Distribute the Writer’s Glossary page for Row 2 of the NYS Rubric. Invite students to work with their partner to check the words there that they circled and add any that are not already on the sheet.
  • Go through the vocabulary words on the Reader’s Dictionary sheet (command, relevant and irrelevant, concrete details, sustain, varied (variety), partially, textual evidence, consistent and inconsistent, minimal, valid and invalid) and any that students added. Give simple definitions that fit the context and/or ask students to contribute definitions for words they know. Be sure to explain the words that are matched with their opposites, such as “relevant” and “irrelevant.”
  • As you and students give definitions for the words, talk about what each of the levels (columns) of the Command of Evidence row means in terms of how a student writes. For example, you could take the Criteria box and say: “This row is about how well a writer proves his or her ideas with examples. These examples should come from other sources and be logical support for the main message the writer wants the reader to understand.” 
  • Once you have modeled how to do this, ask students to volunteer to take one of the level boxes and put the descriptors into their own words. If you think students need to work with a partner here, they can turn to a seat partner to talk about it before they volunteer an answer.
  • Add any new descriptors to the What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart by asking students to contribute ideas from the part of the rubric they examined today. You might expect to add ideas such as: “The details should be connected to the claim,” or “Quotes can support the claim.”

  • To further support ELLs, consider providing definitions of challenging vocabulary in students’ home language. Resources such as Google Translate and bilingual translation dictionaries can assist with one-word translation.

B. Preparing Evidence Part I: Modeling the Use of the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Graphic 
 Organizer (10 minutes)

  • To introduce the work in the rest of the lesson, tell students: “Now that we know the rubric expects you to use good, logical details to support your ideas, and now that you see what good, logical details can look like from the model, let’s go back to the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer (see Lesson 10) we used a few days ago and think about and explain the major evidence you want to use for your essay.” Ask students to get out their organizers.
  • Tell students that you are going to model how to complete the rest of the organizer. Display your Forming Evidence-Based Claims organizer on a document camera.
  • Tell students that since they are going to write about survival factors that help Salva survive, you will instead model about Nya. This way, they can see how you think it through, but they will still get to do their own good thinking later. 
  • Explain how you decided on the details that you put on your organizer. You could reference the Survival anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1). Focus students on the second row of the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer. Explain how each of the details shows factors that help Nya survive. 
  • Go to the third row and write your claim about these factors. As you are adding to your organizer, be sure to think aloud and explain how the details and evidence you select connect to the claim. Say: “The claim that I have here will be my thesis, or main message, to the readers of my essay, and I will use the details I have to support my idea about what helped Nya survive. Then I’ll be sure to explain my thinking about how the evidence I chose supports my claim/thesis/focus.”
  • Give students a chance to talk with their partner: 

* “What did you notice about my modeling?”

* “What questions do you have?” 

  • Address students’ questions. The way you explain your thinking and the amount of explanation needed will depend on the experience your students have had writing essays. If you have time, it would be useful for many students to turn to a partner and explain how the details in your model connect to the focus question and claim. This is an oral rehearsal for them as they begin to work on their own organizers. 

  • Graphic organizers and recording forms provide the necessary scaffolding that is especially critical for learners with lower levels of language proficiency and/or learning, and engage students more actively.

C. Preparing Evidence Part II: Completing the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Graphic Organizer 
 (15 minutes)

  • Be sure students have their texts A Long Walk to Water. Now invite students to look at their own organizers and fill in the first box of Row 2 by explaining how their detail in Row 1 relates to the factors of survival for Salva. 
  • Circulate while they work (as well as in the next step, where they will share their ideas with a partner) so that you can gauge how on target they are or if they need more clarification or support.
  • When all have filled in this first box, invite them to turn to a partner and share. At this point, if they need to revise what they wrote, they can. Let them know that they have three minutes to dig in to this work; you just want to be sure they all understand how to get started. They will continue for homework. 
  • Ask students to complete Row 2 with the other two details and signal to you when they are done. 
  • Circulate as students work, offering help and clarification as needed. Observe what students are adding to their organizers and assist those who do not yet understand what they are to do. Your observations are a chance for formative assessment, and you may wish to take some quick notes on sticky notes about individual students’ understanding and need for additional support. 
  • When all or most are done with Row 2, check to see if any of them have questions and give them specific instructions on how to write a claim/thesis statement in Row 3. Refer them to your model on the document camera. 
  • Tell students it is fine if they did not get to completely finish this graphic organizer; they may finish for homework. If some students completed their graphic organizer, collect them to review patterns. Most students likely will need to continue for homework. Emphasize that they need to bring these graphic organizers back with them for the next lesson, since they will continue working on planning their essay. 
  • Students will need to be working quickly through this segment. It would be helpful for you to have a timer to be sure they are staying on track. If they need more time, of course you can give it, but they should not think they have time to drift. 

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Revisiting Learning Targets and Adding to “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” Anchor Chart (3 minutes) 

  • Give each student a half-sheet of paper for an exit ticket. Students will refer to the posted learning targets for the day.
  • Have half the class write an explanation of how they worked on the first learning target today. Have the other half of the class write an explanation of how they worked on the second learning target.
  • Pair each student with someone who explained the opposite learning target and have them explain to each other the connections between the target and the work today.
  • If time permits, ask students if today’s work has given them any more ideas that they should add to “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” anchor chart. They might add something like: “The claim needs to have evidence to support it,” “The evidence needs to include some quotes,” or “The details in the evidence have to be explained.” (If there is not enough time to add to the anchor chart, students will be able to add to it in the next two lessons as well.)

B. Exit Ticket (2 minutes)

  • Collect the written explanations of the learning targets on today’s work.

  • Using entrance/exit tickets allows you to get a quick check for understanding of the learning target so that instruction can be adjusted or tailored to students’ needs during the lesson or before the next lesson. Pairing entrance tickets with exit tickets allows both teachers and students to track progress from the beginning to the end of the lesson.




  • If you did not finish filling out your organizer, please finish it tonight. 

Note: Review the exit tickets to see that students understand the targets and how they are working to meet them. If you detect confusion, you can write a note on the exit ticket to individual students to clarify the information. If you do make notes, you can return the tickets when students come back to class. Or you can verbally address the confusion with individuals or the whole group at the next class meeting. This ticket is a formative assessment, not one to be graded for quality. If you must give a grade for the day, you can give credit to students for completing this ticket seriously.

Be sure to read through the third row of criteria on the NYS Expository Writing Evaluation rubric for the next lesson. The concepts and vocabulary are complex, and you will need to prepare for how to explain them to students.

Supporting Materials


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