Grade 11: Making Evidence-Based Claims – Louise Erdrich, Tim O’Brien


5 apple rating


Reading Literature

RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

RL.11-12.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

RL.11-12.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.


W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.11-12.9 (a) Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and Listening

SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


This Grade 11 unit titled “Making Evidence-Based Claims – Louise Erdrich, Tim O’Brien” from is part of a developing core proficiencies literary program. This unit is intended to be completed in 6-14 sessions of direct instruction in ELA/Literacy. Its central emphasis is on evidence-based, text-focused instruction through the close reading of Louise Erdrich’s “The Red Convertible” and Tim O’Brien’s “On the Rainy River.” Many activities focus directly on analyzing the way authors use language and key words to develop ideas and achieve specific purposes. Students become increasingly aware of the importance of paying attention to what authors DO—the language, elements, devices, and techniques they use, and the choices they make that influence a reader’s experience with and understanding of the literary work – the craft of writing. In later lessons and activities, students expand their ability into organizing evidence to develop, explain, and express evidence-based claims (EBCs) in writing using these same texts. As a culminating activity, students are given a choice of options to write and develop EBCs that look more globally at the works they have studied, the authorial choices and techniques they have analyzed, and the meanings they have derived. They are encouraged to emphasize analysis of craft and expected to reference specific textual evidence. However, they are allowed to make claims about what they have come to understand from the texts and the various meanings they have found in them – which may take some students into claims that are more thematic in nature.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that extensive teacher notes and preparation materials require familiarity to be used effectively. Due to the rigor required for student success, additional supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band may be required. On page 3 of the unit document, one of the targeted standards is mislabeled; it should be W.11-12.9(a) as it is in the rest of the unit. The standards listed above are accurate.


The design of this unit is exemplary. Instruction pushes students beyond general thematic understanding of texts into deep engagement with textual content and authorial craft. It includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time as it gradually removes supports and requires students to demonstrate their independent capacities.  In addition to reading and writing, it incorporates many structured collaborative activities to develop key speaking and listening proficiencies. Files, including detailed daily lesson plans tools, and checklists, are organized so that teachers can easily browse through the materials. Varied modes of assessment provide direct, observable evidence for interpreting student performance. The unit parts can be taught as short stand-alone units to introduce or develop key student proficiencies. Teachers can also integrate them into larger modules that build up to and around these proficiencies, or apply the activity sequences and unit materials to different texts and topics.