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ELA G7:M1:U2:L14

Scaffolding for Essay: Planning Body Paragraphs for Survival Factors in A Long Walk to Water

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. (RL.7.1)
  • I can analyze the development of a theme or central idea throughout a literary text. (RL.7.2) 
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized. (W.7.2) 
  • I can accurately use seventh-grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas. (L.7.6)

Supporting Targets

Learning TargetsOngoing Assessments
  • I can select details that will support my claim about the theme of A Long 
  • Walk to Water.
  • I can look at a model essay to see how it supports a claim with details. 
  • I can discuss new vocabulary from the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric.

  • Entry Task
  • Student work on Planning Your Essay graphic organizer
  • Teacher observation and notes as students work on Planning Your Essay graphic organizer
  • Student contributions to What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening 

A. Entry Task: Revisit Essay Prompt (2 minutes)

B. Introducing Learning Targets (3 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A. Revisiting Model Essay: Supporting Details (10 minutes)

B. Analyzing NYS Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric Row 3 (10 minutes)

C. Planning Your Essay (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A. Adding to “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” Anchor Chart as Needed (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A. Fill in body paragraph 2 on the Planning Your Essay worksheet.

  • This lesson continues to scaffold toward the End of Unit 2 Assessment. Students revisit the prompt and the claim that they came to on the Forming Evidence-Based Claims graphic organizer in Lessons 10 and 13. They once again use the model essay “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan” to envision success. They also continue to look at the vocabulary and analyze the meaning of the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric. 
  • At this point, it may seem that the multiple times students revisit the model essay is becoming redundant, but it will help students, especially students who are new to writing a full essay. All of these documents are intended to help students understand what they will need to do when they write their essay draft in Lessons 15 and 16. 
  • This lesson has students examining Row 3 of the NYS rubric. This row is the most complex. There is not enough time in this lesson to have students totally analyze the criteria in Row 3 for Coherence, Organization, and Style. Remind students that they will be using this rubric throughout seventh and eighth grades. Consider this lesson an introduction to the criteria, knowing that each time students use this rubric, they will spend time discussing organization, logic, and style in relation to their writing. 
  • The most important thing for students to get from this first look at the rubric is that they need to plan how they organize their details, quotes, and explanations of their claims so that the readers can follow their ideas easily.
  • Be sure that the What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart is posted in the classroom for reference through Lesson 19. You will be having students add to this chart in several lessons, and they can refer to it as they write and revise their Long Walk to Water essays.
  • Students should already have copies of the NYS Expository Writing Evaluation rubric and “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan,” but because students marked their copy of this essay in the past three lessons, giving them a new copy at this point would be a good idea. They can still refer to their original one as well.
  • Post: Learning targets, entry task. 



coherence/incoherence, style, complex ideas, concepts, precise, appropriate/inappropriate, transitions, unified, enhance, exhibit, predominantly

NOTE: From Row 3 of the NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing rubric. 

  • Document camera
  • Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of the Sudan” (used in  Lesson 12; prepare a fresh copy for each student for use in Lessons 14-15)
  • NYS Grade 6–8 Expository Writing Evaluation rubric (from Lesson 12; one per student)
  • Writer’s Glossary for Row 3 of the NYS Rubric (one per student)
  • Planning Your Essay sheet (one per student)
  • A Long Walk to Water (book; one per student) 
  • What makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart (from Lesson 11)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task: Revisit Essay Prompt (2 minutes)

  • Have the following on the board or printed out on half-sheets of paper before students arrive:

* You are working on an essay using the following prompt: “After reading the novel and accounts of the experiences of the people of Southern Sudan during and after the Second Sudanese Civil War, write an essay that addresses the theme of survival by answering the question: What factors made survival possible for Sylva in A Long Walk to Water? Support your discussion with evidence from the novel.”

* What have you already done to get ready to write your Long Walk to Water essay?

  • When students are finished, cold call several students for their thinking. Listen for: “We have picked out some details,” “We have got a claim,” “We have read a model essay several times,” or “We have talked about a rubric.

  • Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all learners.

B. Introducing Learning Targets (3 minutes)

  • Read the targets aloud to students and ask them to give a thumbs-up/-down to indicate if they understand each target. At this point they should recognize the language of the first target from the Odell organizer work in Lesson 13. Remind them they have already looked at the model essay on A Long Walk to Water in Lessons 11 and 12 (the second learning target), and have worked with the NYS rubric in Lessons 12 and 13. 
  • Discuss any of the targets that students do not understand—indicated by their thumbs-down.
  • Discussing and clarifying the language of learning targets helps build academic vocabulary. 

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Revisiting Model Essay: Supporting Details (10 minutes)

  • Say something like: “Over the past two days we have been looking at the model essay and the first two rows of the NYS rubric for writing. Today we are going to talk about Row 3 of the NYS rubric, which is about how an essay is organized and if it expresses complex ideas well. This is the most complicated part of the rubric and the one that is sometimes the hardest to do well. So, to help you see what Row 3 means, we are first going to use the model essay about Salva’s challenges to look at how the essay author organized and explained the details to support his claim.” Emphasize that is it not just having quotes, but the ability to explain them, that really makes an essay strong. “Evidence” is only really evidence when you use it to actually prove something. 
  • Ask students to get out their original copy of the Model Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan,” essay about A Long Walk to Water. Also give them a new copy of the Model  Essay: “Challenges Facing a Lost Boy of Sudan” to use for the next two lessons.
  • Designate Discussion Appointment partnerships for the lesson. Post the following directions on the board for students: 
  1. Turn to your partner and reread the model essay looking for the details that support the claim about the challenges Salva faced. Remember, in Lesson 11 you highlighted or underlined the claim in the first paragraph of the essay. Highlight that sentence again on your new copy.
  2. When you have finished rereading the essay, talk about what challenges and details the author used to illustrate the claim. 
  3. You and your partner will agree on and highlight the sentence that gives the main challenge in each body paragraph on the model. Then circle the details you picked that illustrate the challenge in each body paragraph.

  • After about 5 minutes, refocus students whole group. Cold call several pairs to share the challenges they have highlighted and the details that show each challenge. Be sure that they give specific lines in the essay as they discuss the details.
  • Then say: “Let’s look at how these details are organized. Does anyone see why the essay author would first discuss:
  1. That Salva’s country was at war, 
  2. Then that he was alone without his family,
  3. And finally that the country of Sudan is dangerous?” 
  • Call on those who raise their hands to answer this question. You want them to see that the organization is logical, a term in the rubric. The first challenge was the war that caused Salva to run from his home without his family. Then, once he was moving with other refugees, the challenge of the country itself was huge. 

  •  Asking students to identify challenging vocabulary helps them to monitor their understanding of a complex text. When students annotate the text by circling these words it can also provide a formative assessment for the teacher.
  • Providing models of expected work supports all learners but especially supports challenged learners.

B. Analyzing NYS Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric Row 3 (10 minutes)

  • Ask students to get out their copy of the NYS Expository Writing Evaluation rubric. Tell them that they will be looking at the rubric criteria for coherence and organization, Row 3. Remind them of the routine they have been building over the past few lessons: Ask them to read through that row, circling any words they do not know.
  • Distribute the Writer’s Glossary page for Row 3 of the NYS Rubric and compare the words they circled with the ones that are on the dictionary page: coherence/incoherence, style, complex ideas, concepts, precise, appropriate/inappropriate, transitions, unified, enhance, exhibit, predominantly. The glossary page should already have a simple definition for each of the words.
  • Have a student volunteer read the words and definitions that are on the dictionary page. Explain a word further if necessary. Be sure to point out the words that are matched with their opposite, i.e., coherence/incoherence, appropriate/inappropriate.
  • If students have other words they questioned, ask them to add those to their list and share with the class. See if they can tell what the words mean; if not, give a simple definition.
  • Once the words are defined, tell students that this row of the rubric has to do with how well they organize their information and explain the connections between their details and the claim they are making about factors that help Salva survive. Also point out that as writers, they will be working to do this well in all of their writing this year. We will return to Row 3 of the rubric as they learn to write better.

C. “Planning Your Essay” (15 minutes)

  • Say something like: “Now that we have looked at one way an author organized an essay, you are going to work on getting your details and support for your claim organized so that you can begin drafting your Long Walk to Water essay tomorrow.” Give each student a copy of the Planning Your Essay sheet. Display a copy using a document camera.
  • Invite students to skim this sheet and talk with their partner about what they notice.
  • Explain that this is a framework for a whole essay: introduction paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion paragraph. Point out these aspects of the Planning Your Essay sheet.
  • Point out to students that the essay prompt question is at the top of the sheet, and tell them that they will be working on planning their body paragraphs today. Say: “First, you need to get your claim on the planner. Look at the sheet and find letter ‘g’ under ‘Introduction.’ Write your claim on that line.”
  • When students have completed this step, say: “I am going to show you how to use this planner by putting one of the body paragraphs from the model essay in the correct space.” On a document camera, take the topic sentence from the first body paragraph of the model essay and the details in that paragraph and put them in the Planning Your Essay sheet under Body Paragraph.
  • As you do the modeling, be sure to clearly separate the evidence—quote or detail from the novel—from the explanation of how that evidence fits the claim.
  • Notice that some body paragraphs may not have three pieces of evidence and let students know that is OK. They need to at least have one good piece of evidence, which should be a quote and a clear explanation of that evidence, to make a body paragraph.
  • Point out students’ progress: Tell them that now it is time for them to work on their planners, putting in the survival factors (topic sentence) and details (evidence and analysis) for each of their body paragraphs. 
  • Be sure students have their texts A Long Walk to Water
  • Assure them that this is not the final draft of their Long Walk to Water essay and that they will be spending more time planning and writing the introduction and conclusion of their papers as well as the body paragraphs. Give students about 10 minutes to plan. Tell them this is enough time to get started so they understand the task clearly; they may not finish, which is fine. Planning writing is hard, but pays off with really good work!
  • While students work, circulate and assist them as needed. Also, notice which students are struggling and will need more support to complete the planner and probably the essay. Consider jotting notes on sticky notes as you observe so that you can be sure to support individual students as they write in the coming lessons.
  • After about 10 minutes, collect students’ Planning Your Essay sheets if they are finished. Tell students that it is fine if they are not done yet; they may take their Planning Your Essay sheets home with them. Remind them that they must bring these sheets back to class tomorrow because they will be working on them again.
  • Graphic organizers provide the necessary scaffolding especially critical for learners with lower levels of language proficiency and/or learning, and they engage students more actively. For students needing additional supports, you may want to provide a partially filled-in graphic organizer.

Closing & Assessments


A. Adding to “What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective?” Anchor Chart as Needed (5 minutes) 

  • Be sure the What Makes a Literary Analysis Essay Effective? anchor chart is posted. Focus students on this chart, and point out how their learning is growing from lesson to lesson. Remind them that this chart will stay up as a reference for them as they write.
  • Invite students to offer any new learning they want to add to this chart. You might prompt them by asking questions like: 

* “What did you realize about the details that you put into your essay?”

* “Is it OK if the details are not logically organized?”

* “How should a writer use quotes in an essay?”

  • If they do not volunteer, add statements such as: “The details should be in a logical order,” “The quotes should have quotation marks before and after them,” “The quotes should have a page number after them,” and “Each body paragraph needs a topic sentence.”




  • Fill in body paragraph 2 on the Planning Your Essay sheet.

Note: In Lesson 15, students begin their full draft of their essay. Ideally, they will do this on computers. Arrange necessary technology. (An alternate plan is included for classrooms where word processing is not feasible.)

Supporting Materials


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