Chris Adcock
English Language Arts, Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Writing
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Personal Visions of the American Dream

    Personal Visions of the American Dream


    In this lesson, students will begin to plan for their final paper, in which they will argue for their personal vision of the American Dream.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Decide whether you will provide additional paper planning materials for your students.

    Reflection on Important Arguments

    • This writing time helps students gather their thoughts for the upcoming essay.
      • ELL: You can allow time for ELLs to discuss and organize their thoughts with a partner before writing their reflections. Allow ELLs who share the same primary language to use that language when working together and to use a dictionary (or dictionaries).
    • Ask for responses from several students and discuss what made particular arguments stand out in positive or negative ways.


    Think about the arguments that have stood out to you, in either positive or negative ways, during the unit so far.

    • List as many arguments as you can remember—from the beginning of the unit or from the convention—that have made an impression on you.

    Open Notebook

    When you are finished, share some of these arguments with your classmates.

    Paper Requirements Review

    • Emphasize that students will only have four lessons, plus homework time, to finish these papers. They will need to be efficient with their time.
    • There is a model student essay available to use at your discretion as students begin the writing process.

    Work Time

    Now your task is to synthesize the reading, writing, thinking, and discussion you have done and create your own unique vision of what you think the American Dream should be.

    You will write a three-to-five-page argument paper explaining and defending your position.

    In your paper, be sure do the following.

    • Include an introduction that frames the issue clearly, providing enough background for your reader to know what you are talking about.
    • Articulate a clear vision of the American Dream.
    • Be yourself. Write in your own, individual voice aboutyour opinions.
    • Make it clear why this vision benefits the individuals who dream it and the society as a whole.
    • Use the readings you have done (including your Independent Reading book) and the arguments you have heard as evidence.
    • Address possible counterclaims.
    • Appeal to your audience: modern American readers.

    Be sure to ask your teacher any questions you have about this paper.

    Argument Rubric Review

    • Review the categories of the rubric. Discuss how students believe their characters did on this rubric, both in the original documents and in the students' presentations. Remind them that they should keep this rubric in mind as they plan, outline, and begin writing their papers.
      • ELL: Sometimes rubrics can contain language that is hard for ELLs to understand. Go through the rubric and define and explain terms as needed before asking the students to assess their own performance.
    • Be sure to distinguish between the Grade 11 Argument Writing Rubric and the class-generated rubric or criteria list from Lesson 17, which was specifically for presentations.
      • SWD: If necessary, you can either adjust the rubric or use an alternative rubric for assessing some students with disabilities. Students should know before beginning the paper what the expectations for performance will be. The expectations should be reviewed with the student so the student is able to monitor his or her progress as the writing process proceeds.

    Work Time

    Review the Grade 11 Argument Writing Rubric with your teacher.

    As you listen, consider these questions.

    • How does the rubric connect to the presentations you made and to the documents you have read so far?
    • How can the rubric guide your work as you write the final paper?

    Paper Preparation

    • If you decide to provide additional options for paper planning, share those materials with your students and review them quickly.
    • Encourage students to choose a method that will work best for them. If they don't know, offer guidance.
    • Encourage students to collaborate if that will help them work effectively. SWD: This is a good place to check in with students who will need extra help in planning a paper. Encourage these students to confer with you at some point during this task.

    Work Time

    • Review the Map Your Argument chart and begin completing it with the details of your argument essay.

    Save your work when you are done.

    You Have a Choice
    First, determine how you will approach the work. You can choose to work independently, work with a partner, work with a group, or confer with your teacher.

    Quick Write

    • Remind students that the more clearly they can articulate their message, the easier it is to defend.


    Write the message of your paper in one clear, simple sentence.

    • The message of my paper is . . .

    Open Notebook

    Paper Planning

    • Ask students to submit their plan or outline to you.


    • Finish any planning or outlining that remains and share your plan or outline with your teacher.

    Open Notebook

    In the next lesson, you will write your draft of your paper.