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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources

Grades 11-12

Writing W.11-12.9

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

  • Apply grades 11-12 Reading standards to literature.
  • Apply grades 11-12 Reading standards to literary non-fiction.

There are two parts to this standard: one requiring an examination and inquiry of literature, another requiring the same of literary non-fiction. The reading standards ask students to use text evidence in order to support their analysis or interpretation of texts, and this standard just carries that skill over into writing. Students should be able to incorporate text evidence into their written analysis of a text in order to support their ideas, inferences and conclusions. All of the skills that students must demonstrate in the reading standards should be applied to any writing they do about the texts that they read, both literary and informational.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard


Assignment Example:

Don’t you just love to argue? It’s always a challenge to convince your dad to let you do something that he’s not quite sure about, but thanks to your English teacher, you’re winning more arguments than usual. You’ve studied the persuasive styles of Patrick Henry in his famous, “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech, and while you don’t want to argue to the death with your parents, you do know how to pull out all the stops.

You read and studied Henry’s “Speech in the Virginia Convention” in which he tried to persuade a group of statesmen to aggressively revolt against British authority in 1775. You learned that the speaker used three types of persuasion: logos, ethos, and pathos. Henry, known for his fiery orations, delivered the address to convince his audience to take military action since attempts at peace had been futile. One of your assignments was to go back into the speech and find examples of each type of persuasion.

Before you can understand Henry’s persuasive appeals, you’ll need to research the rhetorical situation behind the speech. Must everything be so carefully studied, you protest? Yes, we say. Through inquiry, you learn that the speech was given on March 23, 1775. It was a time of great American resentment of the British interference with the governing of the colonies. You get that. Emotions ran high, and the Boston Tea Party was a prime example of heightening tensions. At the convention, Henry argued that it was high time for war. Because of Henry’s brilliant oration, many were convinced that a military conflict was inevitable.

You discover an example of a logical argument was that in his experience with the British, NOTHING worked to come to a peaceful agreement; thus, there is no precedent for believing that continuing these efforts would yield results. Hmm, that’s a pretty convincing point. Henry also plays upon the emotions of his listeners. He mentions the gathering of the British fleets and armies as setting the stage for a military skirmish and lists many reasons why a myriad of peaceful negotiations has been ineffective. He instills excitement with his punctuated words: “… we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!”

“An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!” shows that he is PUMPING UP his audience, sort of like the way your coach talks to you just before the game. Later, Henry appeals to his audience’s value system when he states that “three millions of armed people, armed in the holy cause of liberty… are an invincible force.” Political and personal freedom are cherished goals of these early Americans, and you wouldn’t mind a little more personal freedom yourself but try telling THAT to Mom and Dad.

With that speech you were able to return to the text and offer evidence to demonstrate how Henry was able to persuade his audience to take action. Your research provided much-needed information regarding the historical and cultural contexts of the speech. You knew why the speech was given, who the audience was, and what persuasive styles were used to get support. Not only did you provide evidence, you also reflected upon that evidence and determined meaning. Now that you’ve analyzed a non-fiction text, let’s see if you can put those skills to work on a literary text dealing with some of the same ideas.

Freedom was the main essence of Henry’s speech, yet after the U.S. Constitution was drafted and adopted, the question of freedom for ALL Americans, particularly African Americans, was left up to the states. As the North and South eventually came to blows about this issue, writers such as James Russell Lowell, penned poems that reflected the debate.

Your teacher has asked you read and study Lowell’s “Stanzas on Freedom” to explore freedom as a limited ideal. How does the poem argue that freedom has its bounds? You wonder if your parents studied this poem. How does it show that not all men were granted the liberty imagined by the Constitution? You will research the author and the poem and present information as to the purpose of the poem and to whom it was directed. You must interpret the poem’s meaning, and then provide evidence or direct quotations from the text to support your ideas.

In your research, you learn that Lowell was a nationally recognized author. He also served as an editor of the North American Review, America’s oldest literary magazine. Impressive. Because he lost friends and family in the Civil War, Lowell became a proponent of the Union while calling for the end of slavery. He wrote “Stanzas on Freedom” in 1843 to point out the inconsistencies of freedom. This poem was just one of 50 poems Lowell dedicated to the abolition of slavery.

In your notes, you cite two examples that show, according to the speaker of the poem, that freedom was not afforded to all. First, men bragged that they were free while others around them were not. Second, women give birth to sons who would “breathe New England air” while their “sisters were in chains.” You also note that the poet argues that those who enjoy freedom while others do not are truly “base slaves.” Tough arguing with that. Lowell says that “true freedom is to share” and that all must “be earnest to make others free!” You reflect on these lines: “They are slaves who fear to speak/For the fallen and the weak.” You decide that Lowell is arguing that no one is free until ALL are free, and these lines from the poem support your interpretation.

You’ll be memorizing these lines for your next go-round with the folks.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Mark each statement true or false.

  1. This standard does not require the use of outside sources.

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). In order to properly interpret a text, you will often need information about the historical context, which requires research. You can’t get away from it.

  2. Literary non-fiction applies use of real emotions, real events, and real themes.

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Non-fiction means that the text is based on real events.

  3. Evidence from the text refers only to direct quotations.

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (F). You can also summarize and paraphrase portions of the text as evidence to support your ideas.

  4. When using evidence from the text, you must then analyze what that evidence means.

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Anyone can drop text evidence willy-nilly into a paper, but good writers use the evidence strategically and explain how it relates to their claims and interpretations.

  5. In this standard, the term reflection means “to give careful consideration.”

    Correct Answer:


    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (T). Careful consideration is just what you should give to any text you read. It’s the only way to determine the meaning of a text or understand why it matters.