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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy See All Teacher Resources

Grade 11-12

Reading RH.11-12.6

RH. 11-12.6 Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.

The Author Games

I don’t know how many times decisions have been made, arguments settled, or duties assigned using Rock, Paper, Scissors, but it seems to be a legit, binding contract. Since these are the only items available in your arsenal, it is important to know the role of each weapon. If you only knew of one of these arm-ending armaments, your chances of winning would be severely impacted. When assessing a writer’s point of view on a topic, you can think of it as an epic RPS war. The author has three types of artillery with which to make his or her argument, and if they don’t use them correctly, the battle would be over before it began. When more than one author is vying for the win, it gets serious. Imagine intense concentration, sweat-glistened faces, and risking pinky and pointer in an attempt to emerge victorious from the finger and fist fray. The same level of attentiveness and danger apply to multiple authors’ assertions regarding historical events; there can be only one champion.


Catching Views

As a reader, it is important for students to back the right horse in this game. If the author doesn’t make clear assertions, or claims, from the beginning it would be unwise to cash in. There are a few strategies you can give your students to level the stats on each contender. The task is truly, who makes the better argument without making fallacious statements.

  • Know the rules: You can’t evaluate a secondary source without knowing the details about the event in question. It would behoove you to study some primary accounts or unbiased (if available) reports on the event.
  • Group the shirts with the skins: It is much easier to evaluate pro vs. pro and con vs. con FIRST; then move on to comparing the points of view of the opposing writings. This is of course assuming you have more than two authors for evaluation.
  • Play the game: In order to understand the differing arguments, you have to know what to look for:
    • Claims- What are the actual statements regarding the historical event? Is their opinion negative with critical assertions, or is it in praise of the situation? The central claim will be an opinionated topic or thesis statement.
    • Reasoning- How does each author justify his or her claim? In other words, how is the opinion connected to the fact? The reasoning is the logical linking of the claim with the evidence. Consider it the uniform of the competitors; if it is missing, you would have a lot of embarrassed contenders, and no one wins.
    • Evidence- The facts, the proof, the details, the info, the goods… directly from the event in question or from supporting works. Is it present; does it fit; is it used correctly? No? Fail.

Should an author exclude one of these tools, any assessment should crush the erroneous writing like rock crushed scissors, and by crush I mean point out the flaws.


This drill will be a research, task-based assignment. The nature of the standard suggests that the texts examined be current and comparable. Complete the following steps:

Step One: Locate at least two articles regarding the same historical event related to your current course of study.

Step Two: Complete the following chart with details and support from the articles to evaluate the point of view found in each.

CriteriaArticle 1 Title:Article 1 Title
Central Claimsa.
Evidence in Support of claim
Comments: Which article offers the most comprehensive evaluation? Which claims, reasoning, and evidence are most convincing?

** The articles may or may not have three central claims (a-c). This chart may be duplicated in a larger format to accommodate a more detailed analysis.

Step Three: Using the chart above, complete a 3-5 paragraph analysis in which the two articles are evaluated for their point of view regarding the historical issue or event in question.