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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 11-12

Writing WHST.11-12.9

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

Set the Stage

All this good research your students have been doing is useless if they don’t know how to use the text evidence strategically. In this standard, students are asked to use evidence in order to answer questions, offer details, and substantiate research and analysis. No worries, though; English teachers have your back on this one. Hopefully you’ll just need to help your students translate their text evidence skills from English class to other disciplines. This is one skill they can’t get away from.

Example

Dress Rehearsal

Taxes. Everyone complains about them even though it’s clear that the functioning of the government is dependent upon them. You know this all too well. After working hard at Slurp and Burp as a roller-skating waiter, you count on your weekly check to pay for all those video games. Unfortunately, the money taken out for state and federal taxes, social security, and Medicare leaves you short at times. Welcome to the real world, Kiddo! We feel your pain.

In order to understand the hullabaloo about taxes, your economics teacher has asked you to read about them in your textbook. Mrs. Anastrophe has asked that you find a news article that covers the current, volatile discussion about taxes and apply those ideas to the information in your textbook.

The question at hand is: What three types of tax systems are used by the government to raise money for government programs, including education, defense, social services, and infrastructure? Are these taxes fair to the consumer? You’ll be learning about proportional, progressive, and regressive taxes.

Reading your textbook, you learn that proportional taxes are those in which everyone pays the same rate. The tax is based on how much a person earns, each person paying the same rate, no matter the income. With a progressive tax system, a high-income person pays more than a low-income person. Individuals are put into a tax category based on their earnings. The brackets might be zero percent if one makes very little money, or as high as 35 percent if one has a much higher income. Finally, in a regressive tax system, the tax is based on the price of purchased goods or services.

You definitely see yourself in the ZERO tax category.

As you surf the Internet, you note many, many articles about changing our current tax system. Many call for the restricting of the federal tax code because it is unfair to certain groups. As you read a few articles, you reflect on the proportional tax system. The proportional rate seems to be unfair to those earning less. This is because the amount of taxes paid by the poor is more difficult to pay than those who are well off. That’s where “proportional” comes in.

On the other hand, the progressive tax system seems unfair to those who have higher incomes since they have higher tax rates. And, some people wind up paying no taxes at all. The regressive, or sales tax system seems to be harder on those who earn less. A poor person buying the same item with the same tax rate as a wealthy person will have less income to spend on other items. Hmm, looks like there are no easy answers after all.

To demonstrate your understanding, you make a bulleted list of points about each type of tax, give an example of how the rate might be applied, and discuss whether or not that system seems fair to all taxpayers. You have answered both of your teacher’s questions and have supported your answers through evidence from the text, reflection on those details, research beyond the textbook, and an analysis of the information.

Score one for you, taxpayer!

That’s a Wrap

The benefits of mastering this standard apply not only to one content area, but to many. It demands that students go back into the text to find evidence that supports their answers. The standard encourages students to use critical-thinking skills as they reflect upon and analyze information. Mastering text evidence will also help students answer many types of content area questions correctly and check their thinking against the text. Maybe someday, your students can come up with a better tax system that’s fair to all. Just sayin’.

Source:

Pennington, Robert L. “Chapter 15: Fiscal Policy.” Economics. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2003.

Drill

Using Direct Quotations
Read the following passage; then answer the questions that follow and find text evidence to support your answers.

Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified a catalyst that provides the same level of efficiency in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as the currently used platinum catalyst, but at 5% of the cost.

Since more than 60% of the investment in making microbial fuel cells is the cost of platinum, this discovery may lead to much more affordable energy conversion and storage devices.

This new material, nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods, also has the potential to replace the platinum catalyst used in hydrogen-producing microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), which use organic matter to generate a possible alternative to fossil fuels.

"Fuel cells are capable of directly converting fuel into electricity," says UWM Professor Junhong Chen, who created the nanorods and is testing them with Assistant Professor Zhen (Jason) He. "With fuel cells, electrical power from renewable energy sources can be delivered where and when required, cleanly, efficiently and sustainably."

The scientists also found that the nanorod catalyst outperformed a graphene-based alternative being developed elsewhere. In fact, the pair tested the material against two other contenders to replace platinum and found the nanorods performed consistently better over a six-month period.

The nanorods have proved stable and are scalable, says Chen, but more investigation is needed to determine how easily they can be mass-produced. More study is also required to determine the exact interaction responsible for the nanorods' performance.

The work was published in March in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source:
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. "Bringing down the cost of microbial fuel cells."
ScienceDaily, 23 Jun. 2012. Web. 24 Jun. 2012. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120623094430.htm.

QUESTIONS:

1. Why is the development of nanorods so important?
2. What advantages do the nanorods provide?
3. What is one problem scientists face when considering the use of nanorods?

ANSWERS:

1. The development of the nanorod catalyst is important because it can provide the necessary components to create dramatically more affordable energy conversion and storage devices. Evidence: “Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified a catalyst that provides the same level of efficiency in microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as the currently used platinum catalyst, but at 5% of the cost.”

2. The use of nanorods is less expensive, more efficient, much cleaner, and more sustainable than platinum used in the production of microbial fuel cells. The nanorod catalyst also outperforms other contenders, such as grapheme-based alternatives, to replace platinum. Evidence: “With fuel cells, electrical power from renewable energy sources can be delivered where and when required, cleanly, efficiently and sustainably."

3. Scientists are not quite sure how the new catalyst can be mass-produced or exactly how the nanarods work. Evidence: “The nanorods have proved stable and are scalable, says Chen, but more investigation is needed to determine how easily they can be mass-produced. More study is also required to determine the exact interaction responsible for the nanorods' performance.”

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