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Argumentative Writing Assignment and Evidence

The two student work samples that are displayed below, were collected one-month after
the first short-term goal data was collected. This assignment was chosen to show student
progress towards the second short-term goal, because of the instructional strategies that were
used leading up to the assignment.
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The samples were collected after the students completed
a six-paragraph essay over three sixty-minute class periods. Before reviewing five modified
documents on the aftermath and destruction of the Civil War, the students were asked, Were
the costs of the Civil War worth ending slavery in the US? The students were required to hand
in two graphic organizers along with their essay. The first graphic organizer was designed for
the students to organize evidence for both sides of the argument based on each document. The
next organizer was designed to help the students structure their essay in a clear and effective
way. It also helped students organize their counter-claim by having the guided ARE approach
on the organizer along with how the counter-claim should acknowledge the oppositions claim
and evidence, but also offer a rebuttal with contradicting claims, reasoning and evidence.
Figure 7:
Focus Student 1: Lewis, Short-Term Goal 2, Work Sample

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See: Short-Term Goal 2 Data Collection, Section VI, pg. 18

Now lets look at a claim by the other side. First of all, one of the main things that the other side
says is that was worth the costs of the war to end slavery, because it freed the slaves. Honestly
this is true because the 13
th
Amendment did free the slaves after the war. The way I see it though
they would have eventually have been freed anyway because we would have seen that it was
wrong and they should be free. Europe and the North were against slavery and more and more
people were beginning to go against it. It could have saved 620,000 soldier lives. Also more and
more places had industry and if you have industries it is better to have workers who can buy
things instead of slaves. This is why slavery would have ended soon anyway so the Civil War
didnt need to happen.

Lewis clearly states his claim throughout the paper as well as in this sample that he
believes the costs of the war were not worth ending slavery. He then looks at an oppositional
claim, their reasoning and evidence and agrees with the opposition. The difference is that he
claims even though their argument is true that slavery did end after the war, it was going to end
eventually anyway. He uses clear reasoning and evidence to support his counter-claim. His
argument is structurally organized, coherent and soundly supported by evidence.
In terms of accomplishing the second short-term goal of acknowledging and
distinguishing opposing claims, while presenting a counter to the oppositional claim with clear
reasoning and evidence, Lewis has succeeded. He also accomplishes the first short-term goal
with his clear reasoning and strong supporting evidence. Lewis continues to show his ability to
think abstractly and his growth in organizing his thoughts is apparent. Lewis thrived with the
support of the graphic organizers which helped him to organizer his evidence, and also offered
a framework of how to organize his claims, reasoning and evidence within a six-paragraph essay
format.
Figure 8:
Focus Student 2: Justina, Short-Term Goal 2, Work Sample
The opposition believe that the cost of the Civil War was not worth ending slavery. They tend to
think this because all of the lives that were lost during the war. 620,000 men were killed during
the fighting and more were wounded. They also say that the amount of deaths were a lot higher
than any other American war which is true. The problem with that though is that it was
Americans fighting Americans so the number of American deaths will be doubled. Also if a soldier
was unable to perform basic duties due to death, wounds, disease, capture or just missing they
were considered a casualty. That means one soldier can be marked casualty more than once
which makes the numbers higher. The inflation amount of deaths were a lot but it was all still
worth it in the end.

Justina clearly articulates her claim in the sample and believes the costs were worth it in
the end. She does look at the oppositional claims, reasons and evidence and acknowledges the
evidence is accurate, but she then proceeds to poke holes in the statistically evidence. She does
a fantastic job of using her own reasoning and evidence to clearly articulate her claim, the
reasons for her claim and the counter-evidence, which may cause the reader to question the
legitimacy of the oppositions argument.
Justina clearly accomplishes the second short-term goal. She acknowledges the
oppositional claim, reasoning and evidence and articulately presents her counter-claim with
evidence that not only supports her claim, but also weakens the oppositions statistical
evidence. Her organization and clarity continues to be strong, while showing the ability to use
the evidence abstractly to counter the oppositional claims.
Justina learning progress is certainly enhanced by organized, structured assignments
that have clear expectations, clear goals and clear guidelines of how to complete the
assignment. She is at this age, still more of a concrete thinker, but has shown the ability to think
at a higher-level while maintaining her strong focus and organized approach to argumentative
writing and thinking.