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Building Evidence Based Arguments: E pluribus Unum

Odell Education

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This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2015. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was last updated: 1/27/2014.

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. This particular unit is focused on Building Evidence Based Arguments and is one of a four unit continuum that each highlight a core literary proficiency. This should factor into the viewer

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar (11.3)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 3.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 3.0, Instructional Supports: 2.5, Assessment: 2.75.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

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

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

None (0.75)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Any teacher teaching argumentative writing could utilize this resource.

Organization is great for teachers of all levels and divided by lessons. Assessment and questions opportunities gives teachers flexibility. One assessment or a set of questions were not provided as a must do. Multiple reading sources listed and the reading resources divided by text sets in groups that help move students throughout the lesson.


  • Assessments are provided as a suggestion and listed as "assessment opportunities".
  • Reading resources are not provided. Teachers/students may have a hard time accessing the reading materials.


  • Provide a clear assessment that would be utilized per activity.
  • Provide some, if not all of the reading materials.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Teachers with all levels of experiences could implement this unit with little or no assistance.

Strengths include:

  • Options for planning that ask teachers to make decisions based on instructional context. Contemporary, relevant text - Copyright 2013.
  • Model student samples and arguments.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

The title of the unit, E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) is about how immigration laws and practices have reflected, or contradicted, the motto. The informational texts students read relate to immigration and students work on the CCSS RI.8.1 to RI.8.9. The unit is divided into five distinct parts, each one should be very clear for a teacher of any experience level to understand. A teacher would have to make some decision on how much time each lesson takes as the unit does not give specific timelines. It seems, on average, that his unit would take 5 weeks. The supports (i.e. rubric, worksheets, etc.) are in different spots than immediately following the lessons so a teacher will have to find those in advance. A teacher would not need any additional items other than what can be downloaded from the Odell webpage. Students work on argumentation for this unit with the final writing assessment addressing CCSS W.8.1. The unit makes its case how on argumentative writing is different than persuasive writing, thus one can tell that this unit was created with the CCSS in mind.

Although this is called Unit 4 in Odell, a teacher need not have taught the first three units in order to cover this with students. This unit will challenge students in 8th grade to write an Argumentative paper using texts that students close read and discuss to support their claims. Students are taught the academic vocabulary necessary to be successful in future writing classes. Vocabulary words that students use are the following: claims, perspective, position, evidence, and criteria. There is also a focus on the way the author uses vocabulary. Students get to show their understanding of the vocabulary in the essay. The unit gives ideas and support for each lesson and is not overly prescriptive. For each lesson with a required reading or text there are samples of text-dependent questions. Teachers should feel free to create other text-dependent questions, if need be.

The unit may have high student interest as it deals with immigration, which is a topic of interest for both On page 37 there is an excellent explanation of how to work with students around the idea of writing an "essay." It encourages students to think of essay writing as a process and not a product. This thought could be used throughout the unit.


  • More ideas for support for struggling readers — there some ideas on what to do with the texts, but there is nothing that explicitly states support for struggling readers.
  • Hard to navigate between unit plan and handouts.


  • This could be included in the text notes on strategies to work with students who might struggle with the texts as teachers will have students who struggle with the texts.
  • It would help to put the support documents (handouts, rubric, etc.) after each lesson so teachers could follow along as they plan the lesson.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

The unit could be overwhelming for newer teachers working in isolation; but for a teacher with even a modicum of experience and/or working with a team, this unit is a stand-alone replacement. I would recommend looking for pre-requisite skills that the unit needs if a teacher hasn't taught other Odell units.

Strengths include:

  • Deep, critical thinking — the students will be closely reading high-quality texts, writing TDQ's, and discussing articles and issues that are relevant and difficult.
  • Discrete skills related to real-world examples — analyzing others' arguments and evidence to understand how and where arguments are valid and credible.
  • Integrated approach — there are tools to help students self-assess speaking and listening to one another, tools and modeling to read complex text, and a task that combines all the units learning.
  • Supports quality instruction — often the unit supports teacher moves that include gradual release of responsibility and peer interdependent learning.


  • Scoring examples.
  • There aren't any examples of exemplar student work.


  • Add annotated student work examples.

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