Chris Adcock
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Computers
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Information
  • Knowledge
  • Online
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Digital Devices & Identity

    Digital Devices & Identity


    In this lesson, you'll continue to question the role that digital devices play in shaping your identity. You'll also workshop a body paragraph from your essay.

    In this lesson, students will continue to question the role that digital devices play in shaping their identity. They'll also workshop a body paragraph from the argument essay.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Find the article “How Google Is Making Us Smarter” on the Discover Magazine website. Share it with your students. If you do not have Internet access in the classroom, you can print and distribute the article.
    • Decide on whether you want students to work individually, in pairs, or in teams for the tasks in the lesson. Consider assigning workshop pairs for essay feedback.

    Google Article Annotation

    • Before you let students work independently on this article, consider whether it's worth reviewing the concept of a counterclaim.
    • Here's a definition you can share with your students: a counterclaim is an argument that disagrees with the main argument of an essay or article. When an author offers a counterclaim in an argument essay, he typically refutes it as part of supporting his main argument.
      • ELL: Check in with ELLs to ensure that they understand this concept. Make sure they have access to dictionaries as well.
    • Let students know whether you want them to work independently with “How Google Is Making Us Smarter” or whether they should work in pairs.
      • SWD: Monitor the ability of students for whom annotation is challenging note progression. If they struggle with annotating, give them specific questions to promote deep and meaningful thinking.
    • Give students a chance to share their questions and get answers from you and their classmates.


    Read and annotate “How Google Is Making Us Smarter” by Carl Zimmer.

    Interestingly, Zimmer begins his article with a counterclaim, even before he introduces his main argument. Many writers will save their counterclaims for a later body paragraph, but Zimmer makes a bold choice in presenting the views of his opposition before he argues against them.

    • Annotate the article. Note passages that make major claims or counterclaims and annotate them with a few thoughts of your own. Consider specifically how well the claim or counterclaim works to persuade the reader.
    • Note any confusing passages and annotate them with the questions you have.
    • When you finish reading, look back over the article and examine your questions. Answer any that you can for yourself, and make sure your other questions are answered during the class share.

    Open Notebook

    Share your questions and ideas with the full class.

    Article Comparison

    • Give students a set time in which to finish this paragraph, as they will all need to finish before the next activity can take place.
      • SWD: For students who have difficulties making these kinds of complex comparisons, you can allow them to work in pairs or a small group that you conduct to maximize their success.

    Work Time

    In a Quick Write, compare Zimmer’s ideas to those you generated when reading articles from previous activities. Use the questions below to guide your writing.

    • How do Zimmer’s claims build on others you’ve read so far?
      • Whose ideas does he supplement or extend?
    • How do Zimmer’s claims contradict others you’ve read so far?
      • Which claims do you ultimately find persuasive and why?
    • Quote three of the most persuasive sentences in what you’ve read so far and write a few sentences about each of them explaining why you think they’re so persuasive.

    Open Notebook

    Share your paragraph with your museum exhibit team members. If you finish early, continue work on your argument essay.

    Team Paragraph Review

    • Remind students that the most persuasive arguments rely on evidence.
      • ELL: This is a good opportunity to check in with ELLs as they work and make sure that their paragraphs are developing on pace. Provide guidance and support as necessary.

    Work Time

    Read the paragraphs that the other members of your museum team just shared with you and write a comment on each one.

    Use these questions to guide your thinking and comments.

    • Do you and your partner find the same ideas persuasive?
      • Explain why or why not, and include a supporting quotation from one of the texts you’ve read so far.
    • What moments of your partner’s paragraph are most persuasive to you?
    • Choose an idea in your partner’s writing that you agree or disagree with and explain your opinion. Use another quote from one of the readings to support your argument.

    Open Notebook

    Essay Feedback

    You can choose to have students work with pairs from within their museum exhibit teams in order to foster a sense of teamwork, or you can have students workshop their introductions with students who aren't on their team in order to broaden the range of perspectives they're exposed to.

    • If you feel it will be helpful, you can use the Sample Essay to model the four key qualities of a good body paragraph for the class before they workshop their essays together.

    Work Time

    In your workshop pair, read your partner’s introduction and first body paragraph while he or she reads yours.

    Consider the elements of a strong introduction:

    • A smooth introduction to the topic—not a cheesy hook or a bland, general statement.
    • An appropriate level of formality.
    • A thesis that is specific, challenging, and based on evidence the paper will provide and analyze.

    Consider the elements of a strong body paragraph:

    • The topic sentence acts as a mini-thesis that states the goal of the paragraph.
    • The topic sentence acts as a connection between the main thesis and the claims of the paragraph.
    • Evidence is blended elegantly with a sentence that makes its purpose clear.
    • The claims of the paragraph are clearly based on the evidence, using a valid line of reasoning that your reader can follow.
    • After you read your partner’s introduction and body paragraph, give your partner positive feedback about the specific ways his or her writing is meeting these goals. Share your notes with your partner.

    Open Notebook

    Unit Accomplishment Review

    • Review the Unit Accomplishment and Argument Rubric with students to make sure that the expectations are clear.


    • Review the essay portion of Unit Accomplishments to keep the purpose of the essay clear in your mind and make notes for yourself as needed. You should also review the Argument Rubric that will be used to assess your essays.

    Open Notebook

    Essay Writing and Revision

    • It may be appropriate to set more specific guidelines for your class if they need more structure to help them spread out their independent writing time appropriately.


    • Revise your introduction and at least one body paragraph based on the feedback you received today, and continue work on more body paragraphs.