Writing Step 2: Developing a Claim Statement
Once students have sorted pieces of evidence that can back up claims in response to an essential question, they need to evaluate all of the evidence, decide what is convincing or useful given the question, and articulate their claim. Here, it is important to emphasize that the development of a claim should come from the consideration of evidence. That is, the claim stems from the evidence that is available.
Teachers can show students how to use the language of the question to address the question and make an overarching claim. For example, the essential question “Why did the boycott of Montgomery’s buses succeed?” could be transformed into the beginning of the claim “The boycott of Montgomery’s buses succeeded because….”
For advanced writers, teachers can teach students how to consider counterclaims, that is, the claims that could be made by someone taking an opposing side of the essential question. Moreover, students can be taught how to consider such counterclaims and then come up with a rebuttal that provides further evidence to support their own reasoning.
One method for supporting students in making claims is to provide a structured format that explicitly asks student to name the claim (e.g., “Based on the evidence, I think that _____________.”)
Explore: Revisit the Rosa Parks Inquiry of the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955–1956.
Reflect: What are some sentence starters that would be useful in scaffolding the writing of students?