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Building Evidence-Based Arguments - Grade 9: “What is the virtue of a proportional response?”

Odell Education

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2014. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Odell Education is an organization of educational specialists focusing their efforts on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. This unit is part of the Developing Core Proficiencies Curriculum funded by the USNY (New York) Regents Research Fund.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar if improved (10.8)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 3.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 3.0, Instructional Supports: 2.25, Assessment: 2.5.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.5, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 2.75, Deeper Learning: 3.0.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (1.3)

Comments/Ideal Use:

This unit is well-structured in five parts that builds the student's ability to write an evidence-based argument by building knowledge of content and argument and through the writing process.

Teachers at this level must be well trained in argument themselves. This unit offers support and background information, but making it come to life will require adequate preparation of the teacher in both content and argument. The amount of time will depend on the experience and background of the teacher and whether the unit is used in the series or is stand-alone. As with all units with rigorous content, teachers will need to build their own background knowledge in preparing for this unit, but this unit gives them the framework and materials to do so.

This unit is the fourth and culminating unit and would be best used as such whether with the specific units in the ODELL series or in teacher created units. It is written for 9th grade but will need to be scaffolded well supported at that or indeed any high school level. It could be used in an ELA or social studies class at any high school level.


  • Handouts and rubrics that can be used for other topics. In the introduction, the authors state that the same process can be followed for other topics and that teachers need to determine the appropriateness of this topic for their students.
  • The unit provides links to 23 texts, including articles, documents, videos, and political cartoons, which effectively build the students' background knowledge of the topic and explore many sides to the issue. The texts are engaging for high school students and, because they are written for a general adult audience, build the students college, career and life literacy skills. The texts are not organized in a progression of complexity but rather in a progression for understanding the topic. Because this is a culminating unit and because of the nature of the topic, this works. At this writing, all the texts are accessible on-line.


  • A challenge teachers will find in this unit is that teachers will need to provide additional support for ELL students or those not reading at grade level. With the variety of texts and with the inclusion of video and cartoons, the unit provides many opportunities to build the capacity of these and all students. Novice teachers may need support in this area.
  • Another concern is if this is done as a stand-alone unit. The unit builds upon the skills developed in the previous three units. It certainly can be done as a stand-alone but will take more scaffolding for the students.
  • The complexity of many of the texts may be a challenge for 9th graders especially if the previous units that lead up to this have not been taught. Text complexity levels are given but only as lexiles. Qualitative factors are not listed. However, as qualitative are often dependent on students and context, local evaluation would be best.


  • Provide a tool for qualitative analysis of texts for a given group.

Comments/Ideal Use:

This was a thoughtfully designed unit. I appreciated the self-reflection tools that were provided and the text questions students were provided to help them read text in general. These tools would be helpful for teachers in reading any text, informational or literary.

This unit could be used by any level of teacher, although I do think that most teachers will see it for a more advanced class. However, this is what the CCSS calls for all of our students and the scaffolding of this should allow all of our students’ access with some small adjustments for ELL and SPED students. There may need to be some additional background knowledge development provided to assist some students in reading some of the higher level texts, but as many of them are read corroboratively, this should support students learning of reading text closely.


  • Scaffolding for ELL and SPED students continue to not be addressed when units are being developed, as well as working with students who are several grade levels behind. When you look at the lexile levels of the texts chosen you can see that these students in particular will have difficult with these texts and not strategies have been suggested for assisting these students in engaging with these texts.


  • Need to embedded specific strategies for assisting ELL and SPED students with reading these text or modification teachers can make in text selections so that they can engage in the argumentation development with another less complex text on the same subject.

Comments/Ideal Use:

This unit fits well within a general education or honors level ninth grade English class. Portions of this unit could be used within a writing COE class to support students in writing with evidence.


  • Graphic organizers well-constructed, but may need scaffolding for struggling learners
  • Broken link - Connecting Ideas Handout


  • Modify - perhaps multi-step scaffold - for ELL students and/or students on a plan of accommodation

Comments/Ideal Use:

Overall I thought this looked like an appropriate unit for either a 9th grade Honors English section, 10th grade general English (more appropriate) or a unit for a Social Studies course preparing students for CBAs. This seemed to be a very well thought out unit and could easily be adapted by an instructor who wanted to take a little time with colleagues to sit down and figure out some adjustments.

A teacher should have a very worldly and culturally sensitive approach to adequately facilitate guided learning activities with a mature audience in the classroom with additional supports such as some kind of PLC group to bring experimental teaching experiences back for discussion and analysis as well as staying very current on developments that are happening around the world on the related content / context / topic.


  • I would have some reservation about target audiences and who this unit would best be suited for. The content would require a great deal of maturity and readiness to move from 'facts' presented in their various formats to the audience / learners to the composition of an essay that has allowed the student to focus on synthesizing materials in a way that leads to the sought out reasoning and logic that should occur in an argumentative style for presentation. The object appears to be intended for a mature and open minded audience who can handle controversial ideas and can be led by an instructor who has the appropriate background and knowledge to both fuel and lead the debate with the appropriate guiding questions and activities and not to get overwhelmed by students who may take the lesson / unit much farther and bring their own research back into class, as the unit suggests.
  • Overall, it seems that the unit lacks an actual structured or 'packaged' assessment tool. It could have links for instructors to access that might include quizzes on vocabulary for reinforcement or to check for learning. Few appropriate assessment tools for instructor / students.


  • Review with PLC group, or department. Discuss the 'politics' of the items presented and possible classroom scenarios based on student populations and appropriateness of materials. Come to an agreement on how the material will be handed among department members who may be sharing the responsibility of teaching the unit.
  • It could provide links for instructors to access that might include quizzes on vocabulary for reinforcement or to check for learning.
  • The resource mentions increasing Lexile difficulty as the unit progresses and movies towards students reading independence and to build off background knowledge that had been gained from prior lessons with the subject being reviewed. I would have like to have seen some other materials presented as alternate reading assignments or supplemental reading supports to help differentiate some of the learning for more struggling readers to access the materials as the reading requirements increased in levels of complexity

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.