COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Reading Informational Text
RI.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
W.6.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
W.6.1(a) Introduce claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly.
W.6.1(b) Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an
understanding of the topic or text.
W.6.1(c) Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons. d. Establish and maintain a formal style.
W.6.1(e) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.
L.6.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
L.6.2(a) Use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive/parenthetical elements.
L.6.2(b) Spell correctly.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grade 6 unit titled “Literacy in English Language Arts – Writing Editorials” created by Teaching Matters and cited on schools.nyc.gov is intended to be completed in six weeks of direct instruction in ELA/Literacy. The unit plan is organized into six steps, each containing approximately four 45-minute lessons. The focus of instruction takes students through a process of writing an argument essay that is supported by relevant evidence. Beginning with an introduction to the characteristics of the editorial genre, lessons emphasize the comprehension of persuasive texts. This is followed by having students learn to question/challenge texts and to practice asking thoughtful and thought-provoking questions of the texts and their authors. Students then learn to reflect privately on their reading and use questioning in order to determine their own claims on the issues presented as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the editorials. By the end of the unit, students are asked to compare editorials on the same topic to evaluate the strength of the arguments. As a culminating task, students: learn about a controversial issue and develop a claim; read and take notes on four related informational texts; and write an editorial stating their claim using evidence from the readings. The published editorials are shared with a wider audience.
Connecticut teachers should be aware that teacher notes and preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively, especially in regard to pacing of instruction and the materials/activities used to best fit the needs of all students. Three levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced) are addressed within the unit with accompanying materials. The culminating task asks students to explain the other side (an opposing claim) and a strong counterclaim, although this is not required until 7th grade. Teachers have the choice of including this portion of the task if they would like to increase the rigor of the task for some or all of their students. If not, these portions of the student copy of the task can simply be deleted. Speaking and Listening Standards have not been included in the targeted standards listed above and could be added. If social studies teachers use this unit in their classrooms, they will need to change the standards listed above to the appropriate grade-level content band in the Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standards. It is also suggested that social studies teachers add standards from the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks. For direct links to these sources see below.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
The unit is an exemplary example of a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time; it gradually removes supports and requires students to demonstrate their independent capacities. This unit reflects a pivotal shift in the Common Core standards from Grade 5 to Grade 6; from writing opinions to writing arguments. Files, including detailed daily lesson plans, are organized so that teachers can easily browse through the materials. Suggestions for grade level modifications are included in each lesson. Callout boxes and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) support are included to provide ideas for multiple entry points for diverse learners. Expectations and rubrics used to evaluate writing are aligned with grade-level standards and are reflected in assignments given to students. An Annotated Student Work section contains a range of score points with suggested next steps for students. For each piece of student work, a graded analytic rubric is included.
The Writing Editorials unit is part of Writing Matters, a seven-unit genre-based writing curriculum for middle school students created by Teaching Matters. The entire unit can be accessed on the Teaching Matters Demo site at http://www.teachingmatters.org/moodle/login/index.php. Simply log in with the username ‘demo’ and the password ‘demo’ to see all the lessons, as well as all the supporting resources.