Lesson Plan

Who Is Most Responsible?

Comparing multiple data points reveals relationships and helps students construct a model.
Gary G A.
Technology coordinator
Grosse Pointe North High School
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science

Students will be able to...

  • Make a claim supported by text-based evidence
  • Compare multiple points of view
  • Argue from evidence using reasoning
  • Analyze small and large sets of data to identify patterns and trends
  • Develop a model and test it against future situations
  • Summarize an informational text
  • Generate and test hypotheses
  • Identify similarities and differences  
English Language Arts
forming arguments
using supporting evidence
Grades 10 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 The Hook

Activity: Conversing

Note: This activity, while not content-specific, can be a launching activity to get students into model-development thinking appropriate for science, math, or even literature classes.

  1. Ask students how many of them have ever wanted to do something that their parents didn't approve of
  2. Allow students a chance to vote with a show of hands
  3. Call on a few students to share a little about what came to mind that made them raise their hand
  4. After several students respond, ask the students to do a think-pair-share to address the following question: "What did you notice all of the responses we heard had in common?"
  5. Call on a few students to share a little about what came up in their pair discussions

2 The Transition

  1. Ask each student to summarize in their mind what the whole class overall seems to be "saying" about the matter based on all the responses they've heard.
  2. Put students into groups of 4-5 and have them share their individual summaries within their small groups.
  3. Next, have students share on a free text question, in one word, what they think the class consensus was about the task posed in The Hook step of the lesson. In other words, have them contribute one word to describe the preceding discussion.
  • Use the word cloud feature (under Moderation) to display student responses to this poll. 
  • Ask students to compare all the different responses in the word cloud, looking for similarities and differences among the responses. 
  • Allow one or two students to share aloud what they noticed about the word cloud

3 Direct Instruction

Activity: Investigating

Point out to students that what they have been doing in their minds, as they processed everything they've been hearing, is looking for patterns and trends in the "data" to reveal relationships between ideas. Explain that this process is called 'model building' and it is something that we naturally do with data, or any kind of information about the world, to explain or predict circumstances in different situations.

Have them look again at the word cloud, now knowing about model building, and ask them to think about what the model is for all of this data on the screen. Help them to see the trends/patterns in the data, by asking them to consider different possibilities that you pose to them, if they are not readily apparent to them.

Bring closure to this opening activity by asking them how many students think they could construct a model based on data from a new situation that they haven't encountered. After a show of hands to respond to this question, explain the next investigation and task.

Instruct the students that they are about to read a story about a teenager, just like them, whose mother did not approve of something they were doing. Their objective for their reading of the story is to compare the characters and details in the story, just like they have been comparing each other's ideas in class thus far, in order to build a model of the story.

Direct students to the following URL: http://bit.ly/1osSPJw

The story has a specific task at the bottom of the text to guide students' small group discussion. Their responses will serve as "data" for a whole-class discussion later to look for patterns and trends. Point out to them that, just as in the previous discussion, they will need to be able to support their ideas with evidence.

Now, give them 5-10 minutes to read the story and attend to the task in their small groups.

4 Guided Practice

  1. Have students complete the task of determining the order of responsibility of characters in the story within their small groups. 
  2. Have them put their responses to the task, along with any evidence to support their model, in a digital note on Evernote. They can continue discussing their reasoning for their model until after everyone has finished the task.
  3. Ask students to share that Evernote with you so that you can display it on the board during discussion later.
  • While groups are reading and discussing the task for the story, walk around to each small group to check in with them. Stand nearby to observe their conversations, and interject with a question to make sure they are pushing their thinking to support claims with textual evidence and are using sound reasoning to make their points. Help them avoid bringing in their outside experience as "evidence" and encourage them to consider that the evidence is only what is in the text. AVOID giving your opinion on the story or task.

After you've checked in with each group, ask the entire class who needs 1-2 more minutes to finish the task. Based on a show of hands, provide additional time as needed.

5 Independent Practice

  1. Bring all students back to whole-class discussion momentarily. 
  2. Ask each individual student to respond to a free text poll using the following prompt: "Who was most responsible according to you?"

Make sure to point out that this should be the individual student's idea, even if different from their group.

  • Use the word cloud feature (under Moderation) to display student responses to this poll. 
  • Ask students to compare all the responses in the word cloud and allow one or two students to share aloud what they noticed about the word cloud
  • Summarize with the students that the word cloud shows what the majority of students in the class think about who is most responsible, like data points, but that there is no explanation behind what the data shows.

Transition from the word cloud, to the small groups' response to the task by instructing students that we are now going to hear from every group about how they responded to the task.

  1. Give each group the opportunity to briefly present their ranking of responsibilitiy, using a claim-evidence-reasoning framework, based on details from the text. Display their ranking using Evernote while they are presenting, so that the whole class can see how they ranked the responsibility.
  2. After each group shares their ideas, open up the discussion to the whole class to debate the differing points of view on the matter using the evidence, data, and their reasoning.


  • Facilitate the discussion to help the students build consensus and add explanation and evidence to that consensus. Remember to relate the discussion back to the "data" on the screen in the word cloud, so that students see how they've been using data to build a model that explains the situation.

6 The Wrap Up

Open up a new free text poll and ask students to respond and summarize in 6 words or less what they took away from the activity, including visualizing the data, discussing, and building consensus about the rank of responsibility. 

Read aloud several of the responses as they come up on the screen to echo students' ideas back to them about the activity. This is your formative assessment to make sure that they came away with the proper lessons, including the ability to use evidence to support a claim, identify patterns and build a model, and generate/test hypotheses. 

Summarize the following key take-aways from the activity for students:

  • What led students to their ideas is equally important as the ideas themselves
  • Our model can change as we get more information
  • In order for everyone to understand our points, we must support our ideas with available evidence that everyone is aware of

​Wrap up the activity based on how well student responses to the final assessment poll matched the objectives of the lesson and the desired take-away points. If students demonstrated that they met the ​learning targets, no further discussion is necessary; however, if they did not, then you will need to ask them to consider again the process they just experienced and help them to identify when during the activity they were doing the actions that were part of the learning targets of the lesson.

End the activity by instructing students that whenever we are reading text, analyzing data, or learning about new topics, we are building and using models. We look for patterns in information, compare them against current information we have in our memory, and develop a model to explain or predict the situation. Encourage them to consider that the more they focus on using this process, the better they will get at using it to develop and refine models.