Grades 9-10: Speeches – Argument and Methods


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Reading Informational Text

RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text.


W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

W.9-10.1(a) Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

W.9-10.1(b) Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

W.9-10.1(c) Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

W.9-10.1(d) Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

W.9-10.1(e) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.


L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L.9-10.1(a) Use parallel structure.

L.9-10.1(b) Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.

L.9-10.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

L.9-10.2 (a) Use semicolon (and perhaps a conjunctive adverb) to link two or more closely related independent clauses.

L.9-10.2 (b) Use a colon to introduce a list or quotation.

L.9-10.2 (c) Spell correctly.


This Grades 9-10 assessment titled “Speeches- Argument and Methods” developed by the Institute for Learning from the University of Pittsburgh is cited on It requires students to read four speeches as part of two formative reading tasks that build in complexity and are sequenced to scaffold student learning related to argumentative texts. The final task asks students to write an argumentative essay in which they make a case for the speaker who they think makes the strongest argument to promote racial equality. Students consider each speaker’s use of claims, counterclaims, reasons, evidence, and methods when making their determination.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that this assessment will require familiarity to be used effectively. While all required texts are included, an alternate link for Obama’s speech titled “Remarks to the NAACP,” by Barack Obama”can be found here:


This task is an exemplary example of an assessment that elicits direct, observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the targeted standards. Each step of the task is purposely scaffolded as it assesses student proficiency using methods that are unbiased and accessible to all students. The tasks make reading text(s) closely, examining textual evidence, and discerning deep meaning a central focus of the assessment. It expects that students draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing that informs, explains, or makes an argument. Teachers may use the assessment, as it is described, integrate parts of it into a currently existing curriculum unit, or use it as a model for a currently existing unit on a different topic. The assessment materials include aligned rubrics that provide direct observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the major targeted standards listed above.  Annotated student work samples and instructional supports are provided.