Common Core Standards: ELA
1. Text Types and Purposes: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
While Mom might be able to get away with “Because I said so!” as a logical explanation for her side of an argument, most other people need to provide some kind of proof to back up what they want to say. This standard explains just what constitutes a good written argument—from claim to proof.
First, the writer must make a claim. Whether it’s stating that vampires in stories reflect the culture’s fear of people who are different or stating that the conch shell in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies represents civilization and order, the claim tells the reader the author’s belief or opinion. A claim must be something someone can disagree with. No one would argue with the “claim” that gravity makes objects fall down, so there is no point writing an argument to prove it.
Second, this claim must analyze or look at a substantive topic or text. In other words, the claim the writer is making must be about something important. So, a claim examining what vampires symbolize in stories is in, while a claim arguing whether or not vampires sparkle is out!
Third, the writer must create arguments using valid reasoning. This means that the argument must follow logic and present a reason that anyone could be convinced by. For example, if you claim that the conch stands for civilization because your brother says so, that is not valid. It doesn’t matter just how smart and wonderful your brother might be, this reasoning is not going to convince people. You must give reasons based on evidence from the book, and your reasons must follow logical thought processes.
Finally, there has to be evidence that is relevant and sufficient. Relevant evidence is connected to your argument somehow. For your claim that vampires represent a culture’s fears, quoting Bram Stoker’s Dracula is relevant, but quoting an article about Robert Pattinson’s favorite restaurant is not. Sufficient evidence means that you have enough proof of what you are saying. There are plenty of instances in Lord of the Flies when the conch is used to bring everyone together—exploring those instances would be sufficient evidence.
1. In the case of Goldilocks vs. The Three Bears, it is necessary to prove which party is at fault for Goldilocks’ Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following her visit to the home of The Three Bears.
|Goldilocks' PTSD is a result of her own actions, and The Three Bears bear no responsibility for her trauma.||(This is the claim. Notice that the claim reflects a belief that someone could disagree with.)|
|Her inability to return to work picking flowers in the woods is the result of her own actions in the home of The Three Bears.||(This shows that the topic is substantive. Goldilocks has lost work because of her problems—which is a serious issue.)|
|On the day in question, Goldilocks chose to enter the abode of the Bear family despite the fact that she was uninvited, unwelcome, and no one was home. In short, she committed the felony of breaking and entering. From there, she systematically destroyed the possessions of The Three Bears. In particular, Baby Bear suffered the greatest losses—his porridge, his favorite chair, and the security of his own bed.||(This evidence is relevant. It makes it clear that Goldilocks harmed The Three Bears through her illegal entry, which means their frightening her is justified—and is not their fault.|
|No one is disputing that Goldilocks was frightened by the return of the bears: “At the sound of the Baby Bear's voice the little girl awoke with a start. She sat up and glanced about her. Then she sprang out of bed, and dashed down the stairs and out of the house as fast as her legs would carry her.” Clearly, the Bears’ appearing suddenly while she slept was enough to scare her silly. But as she was sleeping in another family’s house after having eaten their breakfast and ruined their chairs, it is her own fault that she was in a position to be so frightened.||(Between the quotation from the story and the description of the losses suffered by Baby Bear, there is sufficient or enough evidence that Goldilocks had no expectation of calm in another person’s house.)|
|If Goldilocks can no longer perform her duties as a flower-gatherer, it is because she is guilty of trespassing.||(The reasoning for arguing that Goldilocks has only herself to blame is valid).|
2. In this example, identify the claim. Explain how it is substantive. How is the reasoning valid? What relevant evidence is used? Is there sufficient evidence of the Bears’ responsibility?
The Three Bears are entirely to blame for Goldilocks’ trauma and subsequent inability to enter the woods to pick flowers. The little girl only wanted to eat and rest before she tried to find her way home again, and by frightening her after a day full of ordeals, the Bears traumatized a minor in their own home.
On the day in question, the Bears left their home unlocked and their breakfast open on the table in order to go for a walk. By leaving the doors unlocked, the Bears lost any expectation of home privacy.
When Goldilocks happened upon their house, she was already exhausted and scared from being lost in the woods. “The little girl went up to the door and knocked. There was no answer. She knocked again. Still no answer. And so she opened the door and went in. She was very tired and hungry.” Clearly, the little girl knew that she should announce her presence before entering. It was not her fault that the Bears were not at home to answer. Finding the door unlocked, the little girl did the only thing she could—she went in and made herself comfortable.
When the Bears returned to find their breakfast eaten, their chairs moved and broken, and their beds rumpled and slept in, they should not have been surprised. They had left their door open. By then scaring the worn out little girl sleeping in Baby Bear’s bed, they committed an atrocious breach of hospitality.
Goldilocks’ current mental state is completely the fault of the Three Bears. If they did not want any visitors in their home, they should not have left it unlocked. For that matter, they should not have left the house at all!