Summary of lesson (Grades 8–10)

Middle and high school teachers in the California Writing Project's Improving Students' Analytical Writing program developed this lesson for students in grades 8-10. It provides students with multiple strategies for interacting with and making sense of a reading passage and writing topic, "Why People Don't Help in a Crisis," which was used in the past as a prompt for the University of California's Analytical Writing Placement Examination prompt for entering freshmen. The teachers focused on addressing this question: How do we help our students understand and interact with the reading passage in ways that develop their critical reading capacity and prepare them to write to inform, argue, and analyze?

The teachers created an instructional sequence that helps students develop a clear and accurate understanding of the passage and use examples from it as evidence for a claim-based response to the central ideas of the passage. The lesson provides the reading scaffolds the teachers developed for diverse or struggling readers and genre models from college students that help students understand how analytical writing blends all three CCSS text types to inform, argue, and analyze.