Discipline: Social Studies

Grade Level: 7

Course: Ancient World History

©Literacy Design Collaborative. September 2011

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Julius Caesar: Hero or tyrant?
  • Skills Cluster 1: Preparing for the Task
    • Pacing Skill and Definition Mini-Task Instructional Strategies
      Product and Prompt Scoring (Product "Meets Expectations" if it...)

      Skills Cluster 1: Preparing for the Task

      Day 1

      Pre-Task Assessment

      Were Tiberius Gracchus's land reforms positive or negative for Rome? After reading brief primary and secondary sources about Tiberius Gracchus, write a paragraph that addresses the question and support your position with evidence from the texts. Be sure to acknowledge competing views.

      Contains a clear controlling idea and two pieces of evidence from the texts, cited appropriately. 

      • Before task, link to prior knowledge & previous class content.
      • After task, discuss student responses as a class.

      Day 1

      1. Task engagement

      Ability to connect the task and new content to existing knowledge, skills, experiences, interests, and concerns.

      Short Response with Bullets

      In a quick-write, record your first reaction to the task prompt (What do you think of Caesar based on your prior knowledge?). Add some notes of things you know about this issue.

      No scoring

      • Review definitions of hero & tyrant. Suggestion: Brief think-pair-share on those two terms. (Discuss student responses as a class as the share).
      • Clarify timetable for the task. Teacher may wish to post a calendar of dates for the tasks of the module in the classroom.
      Extra support:
      • Provide struggling students with possible sentence starters. Example: Caesar was a ____________ because he __________________ or even a simpler question to access prior knowledge about Caesar. (Possibly "Describe two good things Caesar did and two bad things Caesar did." Or "Describe two accomplishments of Caesar.")
      • Provide students with a hard copy of a calendar for the tasks of the module.

      Day 1

      2. Task analysis

      Ability to understand and explain the task's prompt and rubric.


      In your own words:

      1. What is the prompt asking you to do? 
      2. What are the important features of a good response to this prompt?

      No scoring

      • Conduct as a think-pair-share so that students can hear how others are interpreting the task and encourage them to help each other when appropriate.
      • Create a classroom list: Choose one student to share a few ideas on the board, and ask others to add to it. Have students add to their own lists as classroom list is built.
      • Extra Support: Specifically plan groups to provide ideal peer support for students who need it.
      • Teacher work: Review each student's responses (task analysis and quick-write) to ensure she/he understands the task.
  • Skills Cluster 2: Reading Process
    • Pacing Skill and Definition Mini-Task Instructional Strategies
      Product and Prompt Scoring (Product "Meets Expectations" if it...)

      Skills Cluster 2: Reading Process

      Day 2 

      1. Active reading 

      Ability to understand necessary reading strategies needed for the task and develop an understanding of a text by locating words and phrases that identify key concepts and facts, or information.


      Use annotation techniques as you read to demonstrate interaction with text and identification of main ideas and supporting details. (Circle unfamiliar words, bracket main ideas, underline supporting details, star major points you want to return to, write questions and insights in the margins.)


      An annotated or "actively read" article has a variety of marks (circles, underlining, stars, highlights, etc.). Annotation also includes written questions, connections, and insights in the margins.

      *Use annotation rubric to provide students feedback on their reading.

      • If annotation has not already been taught, instruction for the first text should be very explicit and include teacher modeling then group/partner work. 
        • Teacher reads first three sentences of the article, modeling active reading and annotation strategies.
        • Students finish reading the rest of the article using a "think aloud" process with a partner.
      • Extra Support: Students who are not strong readers should continue to read with a partner (stronger readers should finish reading texts independently). All students should share annotations and answers in organizer with a partner or group.


      2. Essential vocabulary

      Ability to identify and master terms essential to understanding a text.

      Vocabulary list 

      In your organizer, list words and phrases essential to the texts. Add definitions, and (if appropriate) notes on connotation in this context.

      Lists appropriate phrases.

      Provides accurate definitions.

      • After scoring, ask some students to share definitions of terms that others overlooked or misunderstood.
      • After scoring, be willing to provide direct instruction or guide a close reading if needed to work through a key phrase most students missed.

      Days 3 - 5

      4. Note-taking 

      Ability to select important facts and passages for use in one's own writing.


      Short entry in organizer for each text

      Is the author positive or negative about Caesar? 

      Which evidence from the text shows you that?


      Answers questions with credible response in organizer.

      Includes information in notes to support accurate citation (for example, page numbers for a long text, clear indication when quoting directly).

      • Check that early student work is in the assigned format (or in another format that gathers the needed information effectively).
      • Invite students to brainstorm ways to figure out any author's tone and perspective.
      • Invite students to share and discuss their answers for each text.
      • After the discussion, allow them to add to their entries.
      • Extra Support: Provide struggling readers with scaffolded texts in which key pieces of text that actually support their side of the debate are underlined.

      Day 5

      5. Academic integrity

      Ability to use and credit sources appropriately.

      Definition and strategies

      Define "plagiarism" and list ways to avoid it.


      Read a very brief text and then several sample sentences from a mock student response to the text. Students will evaluate whether or not our sample student sentences were plagiarism or not.

      Provides accurate definition.

      Lists several appropriate strategies.

      Includes information in notes to support accurate citation (for example, page numbers for a long text, clear indication when quoting directly).

      Correct responses and/or credible explanations in activity.

      • Discuss respect for others' work to assemble evidence and create texts.
      • Discuss academic penalties for stealing others thoughts and words.
      • Practice activity (conduct as I Do, We Do, You Do)—provide students with mini-text and sample student sentences from mock essay. Students will evaluate whether or not our sample student sentences were plagiarism or not.
  • Skills Cluster 3: Transition to Writing
    • Pacing Skill and Definition Mini-Task Instructional Strategies
      Product and Prompt Scoring (Product "Meets Expectations" if it...)

      Skills Cluster 3: Transition to Writing

      Day 6

      1. Bridging

      Ability to begin linking reading results to writing task.


      In a quick-write, write the three most important points you can make about Caesar to prove your side in the debate. 

      No scoring

      • Small group discussion using quick-write question. 
      • Discuss the process for conducting the debate and the requirements for writing statements and questions for the debate.
  • Skills Cluster 4: Writing Process
    • Pacing Skill and Definition Mini-Task Instructional Strategies
      Product and Prompt Scoring (Product "Meets Expectations" if it...)

      Skills Cluster 4: Writing Process

      Day 6

      1. Claim

      Ability to establish a claim and consolidate information relevant to task.

      Opening paragraph

      1) Write a formal claim using your quick-writes, notes, and article information to ensure a strong controlling idea.

      2) Write a draft introduction that will set the context for your claim.

      Writes a concise summary statement or draft opening.

      Writes a concise summary statement or draft opening.

      Provides direct answer to main prompt requirements.

      Establishes a controlling idea.

      Identifies key points that support development of argument.

      • Before students write their formal claim, review qualities of a strong claim as a class: must be an argument, include simple defense of the argument, and include categories to lead reader and organize essays.
      • Offer several examples of claims. Think-pair-share to discuss what makes them strong or weak.
      • After students have finished writing a formal claim, review the qualities of a strong opening paragraph: Hook, Bridge, Thesis, Road map. Discuss how the form of writing a statement for debate might follow a slightly different format with an abbreviated intro & conclusion, because it has to be read aloud in less than two minutes.
      • In pairs, students share their claim statements and introduction. 
        Student volunteers share their claim and introduction with the class for critique.
      • Extra Support—Provide students with sentence frames to help write the claim. For example: Julius Caesar was a __________ because he __________________________________________
      • (Choose three main points from your quick-write).

      Day 7

      2. Planning

      Ability to develop a line of thought and text structure to prove an argument in a debate.


      Create an outline based on your notes and reading in which you state your claim, sequence your points, and note your supporting evidence.

      L2: Include competing arguments.

      L3: Include 2 examples of historical or current connections to topic/issue.

      Creates an outline or organizer.

      Supports opening claim.

      Uses evidence from texts read earlier.

      L2: Identifies competing arguments.

      • If outlining has not already been taught in the year, provide and teach one or more examples of outlines or organizers.
      • Review text requirements: Students must use evidence from a minimum of three different texts in their essay.
      • In small groups, students share how they will organize their essays.
      • Students who are going to be judges or involved in cross-examination will not be able to write full drafts, as they will have to respond to the opening statements and rebuttals of their peers during the debate to craft their responses. During this writing time, they will have to work on planning and anticipating other students' responses (using provided organizers). They will write formal statements after the debate—judges will explain why they voted the way they did, cross-examination students will write their own versions of an opening statement.
      • Extra Support—Some students may focus on providing evidence from only one or two texts in their outline. Some students may be given an outline template rather than having to create one from scratch.

      Days 8 and 9

      3. Development

      Ability to construct an initial draft with an emerging line of thought and structure.

      L2: Ability to analyze competing arguments. 

      L3: Ability to make clarifying connections and/or provide examples. Initial draft

      Initial draft

      Write an initial draft complete with opening, development, and closing; insert and cite textual evidence.

      L2: Identify competing arguments.

      L3: Provide appropriate number of sound connections.

      Provides complete draft with all parts.

      Supports the opening in the later sections with evidence and citations.

      • Review strategies for constructing body paragraph, such as TEST—Topic sentence, Evidence, Significance, and Transition. or MEAL—Main Idea, Evidence, Analysis, Link back
      • Make sure when assigning debate teams that each team has a strong student-writer to help guide discussion and provide peer-review. 
      • Extra Support—Teacher conducts coaching sessions for students who need extra support in developing their speeches.

      Day 10

      4. Revision and Editing

      Ability to refine text, including line of thought, language usage, and tone as appropriate to audience and purpose.

      Ability to proofread and format a piece to make it more effective.

      Multiple drafts

      Refine composition's analysis, logic, and organization of ideas/points. Use textual evidence carefully, with accurate citations. Decide what to include and what not to include.

      Correct Draft

      Revise draft to have sound spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar. Adjust formatting as needed to provide clear, appealing text.

      Provides complete draft with all parts.

      Later sections support the opening with evidence and citations.

      Improves earlier edition.

      Provides draft free from distracting surface errors.

      Uses format that supports purpose.

      • Sample useful feedback that balances support for strengths and clarity about weaknesses.
      • Assign students to provide each other with feedback using peer review template.
      • Briefly review selected skills that many students need to improve.
      • Teach a short list of proofreading marks.
      • Assign students to proofread each other's texts a second time.

      Day 11

      Conducting the debate


      Conduct debate—Resolved: Julius Caesar was a tyrant who destroyed the Roman Republic.

      Final draft is delivered orally during the debate and then submitted in writing for scoring.

      • Opening statements from each side.
      • Rebuttal statements from each side.
      • Questions & answers from each side.
      • Closing statements from each side.
      • Judges' verdict. 
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