Task 4 - Unfolding an Argument

Common Core State Standards Assessed by Task

RI.9-10.1Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RI.9-10.3Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.

Rationale

The standards place a new level of emphasis on analytic writing that draws evidence from sources. A key assessment objective is to ask students to read and then write about ideas, concepts, and issues worth thinking about and discussing. Often in college or on the job, blended pieces that include elements of argument and explanatory writing will be called for. Thus, while some prompts may focus specifically on argument or writing to inform or explain, other prompts will clearly ask for students to analyze sources in such a way that they blend purposes to construct a deeper understanding. Passages and questions about them will be thoughtful and worthy of study and discussion so they will provide models for the regular course of instruction.

The emphasis on writing to sources will support the implementation of asking students to demonstrate the critical college- and career-readiness skills of presenting credible evidence from texts, crafting coherent and well-developed prose, and writing clearly with sufficient command of academic English. Learning to present important information from text in an organized piece of writing helps students generate a deeper understanding of a text. Indeed, whether taking notes, answering questions about a text, or crafting a summary or an extended response regarding what they have read, students improve both their reading comprehension and their writing skills as they write in response to texts.

Option Sample Items
"Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Prayer Service Address1" by Bill Clinton
Item Expectations
1 Bill Clinton delivered this speech on April 23, 1995 at a memorial service for the victims of the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Write an analysis of how Clinton unfolds his ideas, including the order in which the ideas are presented, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
This option requires students to understand the central ideas in the speech and to write an analysis of how the speaker unfolds these ideas. In this option, there many embedded skills necessary to complete this task are not delineated as discrete steps.
2 Bill Clinton delivered this speech on April 23, 1995 at a memorial service for the victims of the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Analyze how Clinton unfolds his ideas by creating a list of the major ideas in his speech. Then, write an analysis that explains how Clinton unfolds these ideas.

As you write your analysis, consider such things as the order in which the ideas are presented, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
This option asks students to create the explanation of how the ideas in the speech are presented as a list instead of constructing a prose response. Students are then asked to write their analysis as a prose response.
1 Reagan, R. “The Space Shuttle ‘Challenger’ Tragedy Address.” American Rhetoric. 28 Jan. 1986. Web. 7 Jun. 2012. <http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronaldreaganchallenger.htm>.