LDC Task

"Zoos and Animal Welfare" Argumentative/Persuasive Writing

Grade Levels

6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade

Course, Subject

Writing,Science,Biology,English Composition
Related Academic Standards
  • Big Ideas
    Purpose, topic and audience guide types of writing
  • Concepts
    Focus, content, organization, style, and conventions work together to impact writing quality
    Persuasive writing attempts to influence the audience by presenting an issue and stating and supporting a position.
    Various types of writing are distinguished by their characteristics
  • Competencies
    Persuasive Writing: Develop substantial, relevant and illustrative content that demonstrates a clear understanding of the purpose (content).
    Persuasive Writing: Employ a thoroughly elaborated argument that includes a clear position consistently supported with precise and relevant evidence where rhetorical persuasive strategies are evident (content).
    Persuasive Writing: Employ effective organizational strategies and structures, such as logical order and transitions, which develop a controlling idea (organization).
    Persuasive Writing: Use proper conventions to compose in the standard form of the English language (conventions).
    Persuasive Writing: Write with a sharp, distinct controlling point made about a single topic with evident awareness of task and audience (focus).
    Persuasive Writing: Write with precise control of language, stylistic techniques, and sentence structures that create a consistent and effective tone (style).
    Write persuasive pieces, specific to a purpose and audience, which have a clearly stated position or opinion, with convincing and properly cited evidence that anticipates and counters reader concerns and arguments.
    Write to influence the audience by:• stating and supporting a position with detailed evidence, examples, and reasons. • using persuasive techniques (e.g.: emotional appeal, statistics, description, anecdote, example, expert opinion) to strengthen the argument. • employing a distinct structure to organize the argument and the opposing viewpoints. • acknowledging and refuting opposing arguments. • evaluating sources for validity, perspective, bias, and relationship to topic.• documenting sources of information responsibly and ethically. • using sources to achieve a balanced and authoritative argument. • supporting judgments with relevant evidence and detail.
    Write to influence the audience by:• stating and supporting a position with detailed evidence, examples, and reasons. • using persuasive techniques (e.g.: emotional appeal, statistics, description, anecdote, example, expert opinion, analogies and illustrations) to strengthen the argument. • employing a distinct structure to organize the argument and the opposing viewpoints. • acknowledging and refuting opposing arguments. • evaluating primary and secondary sources for validity, perspective, bias, and relationship to topic. • documenting sources of information responsibly and ethically. • using sources to achieve a balanced and authoritative argument. • supporting judgments with relevant evidence and detail. • presenting the position in either a deductive or an inductive framework.
    Focus, content, organization, style, and conventions work together to impact writing quality


The Literacy Design Collaborative teaching task provides a blueprint for seamlessly integrating literacy and content standards in a rigorous, authentic classroom experience. After determining the discipline, course, and grade level, educators use teaching tasks built around predefined template prompts. The teaching task requires students to read, analyze and comprehend written materials and then write cogent arguments, explanations or narratives in the subjects they are studying.


Students will examine the zoo as a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures and displayed to the public. In many cases, animals may also be bred to produce offspring. Although enjoyed by many, some feel zoo conditions are detrimental to the health of animals. Students will explain and support their opinion as to whether or not animals should be kept in zoos.


In this extended writing task, students will read, analyze, and gather relevant information from text(s) and write an argumentative essay. Students will…

  • Apply knowledge of the distribution and management of natural resources to a current issue
  • Apply knowledge of the relationship between an environment and extinction to a current issue
  • Read, analyze and gather relevant information from multiple texts
  • Write an evidence-based argumentative essay, and address competing views


enclosure - something that "closes" a space

welfare - a condition of being or doing well

conservation - protection from extinction

zoochosis - obsessive, repetitve behavior associated with animals kept in prolonged captivity

extinction - dying out or termination of a species. Occurs when a species can no longer reproduce at replacement levels

endangered species - a species existing in such small numbers that it is in danger of becoming extinct



500 minutes/10 periods


Related Materials & Resources

Suggested Instructional Strategies


The students will analyze and discuss the teaching task to identify what the task is asking them to do and to help students access background knowledge. Sample student papers or texts will be used as models. Students will work with the teacher to interpret the Literacy Design Collaborative rubric.


The teaching task, which is both relevant and rigorous, engages students in subject specific reading, research, and writing. The teaching task requires the application of content knowledge to a new scenario.


The teacher will engage students through reading and discussion, note-taking, and the development of a rough draft of the assignment.


Students will use active reading strategies (e.g., "Talking to the text"), discussion protocols (e.g., think-pair-share, Paideia/Socratic seminar), and writing strategies (e.g., peer editing, teacher modeling and guided practice) with appropriate scaffolds as they develop their final written product.


The students will create an extended writing assignment which incorporates both their content understanding and text-based information. The Literacy Design Collaborative rubric will be used to provide feedback to students.


The Literacy Design Collaborative teaching task is a tiered assignment. Individual tasks can be made simple or complex by varying the task demand, with up to three tiers of difficulty. For leveled tasks, teachers can choose to teach Level 1 (L1) alone or add demands to the prompt by including Level 2 (L2) and/or Level 3 (L3).

  • Level 1 (L1) refers to the most fundamental levels of difficulty.
  • Level 2 (L2) refers to a "next step-up" skill or cognitive demand.
  • Level 3 (L3) adds additional demand to the task in which writers are asked to make connections and use background knowledge.

The teaching task is designed to help students apply subject area content through reading and writing. The teaching task might be sequenced toward the end of a content unit. The teaching task is an extended, multiple day classroom assignment.

Instructional Procedures

Teacher Preparation
Prior to launching the teaching task in the classroom, a teacher should consider the following questions:


How much support will students need to successfully complete the task?


What parts of the process can be completed independently (during or outside of class)? What parts of the process represent new learning or substantial challenge and warrant direct instruction or guided practice during class?


What content and vocabulary instruction and activities will be provided so that students are able to successfully complete the task?


How will reading be scaffolded for my students? (Read together? Read in groups? Read independently?)


What note-taking method will students use, and does that method align with the writing task?


How will students make the transition from the reading to the writing? (outline, graphic organizer, etc.)


What writing instruction is needed to help students write their thesis statements, organize their notes, embed quotes, and cite evidence?


How will students receive feedback at various stages of the writing process to make sure they are answering the prompt, their papers are focused, their ideas are fully developed with details, examples, etc.?


Daily Plan
The daily plan is flexible based on students' prior knowledge, experience and skills in reading, research and writing as well as their ability to apply subject area knowledge to a new scenario. The amount of time, in class instruction, and scaffolds needed can be increased or decreased to provide the appropriate level of challenge and support for students.

Teaching Task 2 (Argumentative/Analysis L1, L2): Should animals be kept in zoos? After reading informational texts, write an essay that addresses the question and support your position wiht evidence from the text(s). L2 Be sure to acknowledge competing views.

Day 1

Task Engagement and Analysis
The teacher introduces the teaching task to students by linking the task to the class content that has been taught previously and to existing knowledge, skills, and interests. The teacher asks students to read the teaching task and make notes or discuss with peers things they already know about this issue or topic.

The teacher helps the students to understand the expectations of the teaching task by asking students what they think a good response to the task might include and creating a classroom list. The teacher may share examples of the type of texts the students will produce (either actual student samples or commercially published texts). Sharing the rubric with students will clarify the expectations. (Clicking on each performance level of the rubric will enable teacher access to annotated student writing for that level.)

The teacher explains the timetable and supports available for completing the task.

Text Selection
The teacher has either preselected the texts or will provide access to research sources for students to select texts. The teacher asks students to begin to record information about the sources (e.g., using notebooks, note cards, technology). The teacher may need to provide models or instruction on creating a bibliography or works cited. The students should identify author, title, publisher, date, and any other needed information (e.g., volume, editor) A discussion about the credibility or merit of sources may be needed.


Days 2-3

Preview texts
The teacher can provide students with all of the texts or offer students a list of acceptable sources from which to choose. The teacher briefly highlights each text with a summary to assist students in making appropriate text selections. The teacher asks the students to skim through each text to identify the genre, purpose, and text structure. A teacher think-aloud explaining rationale for making certain text selections may be beneficial to students.

The teacher provides or suggests that a note-taking method be used that is consistent with the expectations for the task and the type of writing (e.g., argumentative-pro/con t-chart). Students should be encouraged to refer to the teaching task so that their notes are relevant to the prompt. Students should be encouraged to include both textual information and their own connections and implications. Students should continue to add to their bibliography or works cited.

Teachers may need to teach or reinforce practices to promote academic integrity and to help students avoid plagiarism. The ability to use and credit sources appropriately shows respect for the work of others and adds credibility to a student's argument and/or research.

Reading and Research
The teacher assigns the reading, research and note-taking to students and provides instruction to support analysis and synthesis of texts. The teacher may ask students to reflect orally or in writing on key questions including:


Which parts of the text provide evidence that relates to the prompt?


What historical or current examples did you notice that relate to the prompt?


What is the text explicitly saying? What gaps or unanswered questions do you see?


What competing arguments have you encountered or thought of based on the text (argumentative)?


How do you know your sources are credible?


Depending upon the needs of students in the classroom, additional scaffolds may be necessary (e.g., whole-group reading and teacher modeling of note-taking, paired in-class reading, talking to the text, small group discussion). The teacher may either provide students with print source options or make electronic texts available to them through the use of Web 2.0 tools (e.g., Wikis, Nings) or online library databases (e.g., EBSCO, ProQuest).


Day 4

Transition to Writing
The teacher uses discussion based strategies such as the Paideia/Socratic seminar or small group discussions to help students make connections between their research and notes and the teaching task.

Developing a Thesis or Claim
Students write an opening paragraph that includes a controlling idea and sequences the key points that will be made throughout the writing assignment. The teacher may provide models of opening paragraphs and analyze them with the class. Students may provide feedback to each other on their opening paragraphs. Students should compare their opening paragraph to the teaching task and assess whether the paragraph fully address the main points of the prompt (e.g., define and explain, compare, take a position, etc.)

Organizing Notes/Planning
Students organize their notes into a graphic organizer or outline that establish a logical structure for the assignment. An outline begins with the thesis or claim, sequences key points and includes supporting evidence from texts.


Days 5-6

Development of rough drafts
Students begin writing their rough drafts. The teacher frequently checks in with students to answer questions, offer feedback, and provide writing instruction as needed. Through planning, the teacher embeds opportunities for students to receive feedback on their writing prior to the submission of the final draft either through peer conferencing, teacher conferencing, or written teacher feedback. Students revise their drafts based on the feedback they receive. The amount of time needed for the development of rough draft varies and may include time during and outside of class.


Day 7

Completion of Final Draft
Students either self or peer-edit their papers for conventional errors and complete the final draft.

Assessment and Reflection
The teacher uses the LDC rubric to assess the students' writing and provide feedback to help students improve their performance. Patterns in student performance guide further instruction.

Analytic Scoring
The rubric is structured to facilitate analytic scoring - the awarding of separate scores by readers for each of the seven scoring elements. Scorers should keep in mind that the description of work quality within any particular "cell" of the rubric may still address more than one idea, and therefore may not match a particular essay perfectly. The scorer must identify the descriptor that is the best match to a paper based on the preponderance of evidence. If the decision is truly a "coin toss," the scorer should feel free to use the "in-between" or "half" scores. A variation of analytic scoring might be used in a situation in which the emphasis of instruction at a particular time might be on a subset of the seven scoring elements. For example, if instruction is focused on development and organization, then a teacher might simply award scores for those two scoring elements.

Holistic Scoring
Holistic scoring is assigning a single, overall score to a paper. Analytic and holistic scoring rubrics look much the same. The holistic scorer's job is to pick the single score (1, 2, 3, 4) that corresponds to the set of descriptors for scoring elements that best matches a paper. Again, in-between or half scores can be used. Ideally, holistic scorers are thinking about all the scoring elements as they read papers, but over time they find that they can assign holistic scores very rapidly, yet still fairly accurately. This is one of the advantages of holistic scoring. However, analytic information is not generated by this method.

Score Recording and Feedback
It would be good practice for teachers to share the rubrics with students and discuss "criteria for success" relative to the scoring elements. However, it is not intended that a clean scoring rubric would be attached to every paper that is scored in all situations. It might be more appropriate to attach score slips that list the scoring element names with blank spaces after them for the recording of scores (and a space for a total score, too, perhaps). A customized rubber stamp could accomplish the same. Analytic scores do provide useful information to the students since they reference descriptors in the rubric. However, nothing beats descriptive comments that are best written in the margins of the papers where they are most appropriate.

Cut Scores for Proficiency Levels
Scorers can readily compute a total score (the sum of the seven element scores) or an average score (that sum divided by 7). If translating scores to performance levels is desired, then the structure of the rubrics lends itself to the use of the following cut scores:

Performance Level Total Score Cut* Average Score Cut*
Not Yet 10.5 1.5
Approaches Expectations 17.5 2.5
Meets Expectations 24.5 3.5
Advanced N/A N/A
* The cut scores above are the highest scores possible within their associated performance levels. To score at the Advanced level, a student would have to earn more than 24.5 total points or an average score greater than 3.5 points. The highest scores possible for Advanced (28 and 4.0) are not cut scores because there is no higher performance level than Advanced.

LDC Scores and Grades
LDC scores could be translated to grades contributing to students' course grades. How this would be done is an individual teacher's decision. Teachers could establish their own cut scores for letter grades or just re-label the four performance levels as A, B, C, D. They could come up with their own way to convert LDC scores to numerical grades consistent with whatever numerical scale they use for other class work.



Click on each performance level below (Not Yet, Approaches Expectations, Meets Expectations, Advanced) to view annotated student samples.


Not Yet

 Approaches Expectations

Meets Expectations


Scoring Elements










Attempts to address prompt, but lacks focus or is off-task.


Addresses prompt appropriately and establishes a position, but focus is uneven.


Addresses prompt appropriately and maintains a clear, steady focus. Provides a generally convincing position.


Addresses all aspects of prompt appropriately with a consistently strong focus and convincing position.


Reading/ Research


Attempts to reference reading materials to develop response, but lacks connections or relevance to the purpose of the prompt.


Presents information from reading materials relevant to the purpose of the prompt with minor lapses in accuracy or completeness.


Accurately presents details from reading materials relevant to the purpose of the prompt to develop argument or claim.


Accurately and effectively presents important details from reading materials to develop argument or claim.


Controlling Idea


Attempts to establish a claim, but lacks a clear purpose.

(L2) Makes no mention of counter claims.


Establishes a claim.

(L2) Makes note of counter claims.


Establishes a credible claim.

(L2) Develops claim and counter claims fairly.


Establishes and maintains a substantive and credible claim or proposal.

(L2) Develops claims and counter claims fairly and thoroughly.




Attempts to provide details in response to the prompt, but lacks

sufficient development or relevance to the purpose of the prompt.

(L3) Makes no connections or a connection that is irrelevant to argument or claim.


Presents appropriate details to support and develop the focus, controlling idea, or claim, with minor lapses in the reasoning, examples, or explanations.

(L3) Makes a connection with a weak or unclear relationship to argument or claim.


Presents appropriate and sufficient details to support and develop the focus, controlling idea, or claim.

(L3) Makes a relevant connection to clarify argument or claim.


Presents thorough and detailed information to effectively support and develop the focus, controlling idea, or claim.

(L3) Makes a clarifying connection(s) that illuminates argument and adds depth to reasoning.




Attempts to organize ideas, but lacks control of structure.


Uses an appropriate organizational structure for development of reasoning and logic, with minor lapses in structure and/or coherence.


Maintains an appropriate organizational structure to address specific requirements of the prompt. Structure reveals the reasoning and logic of the argument.


Maintains an organizational structure that intentionally and effectively enhances the presentation of information as required by the specific prompt. Structure enhances development of the reasoning and logic of the argument.




Attempts to demonstrate standard English conventions, but lacks cohesion and control of grammar, usage, and mechanics. Sources are used without citation.



Demonstrates an uneven command of standard English conventions and cohesion. Accuracy and/or appropriateness of language and tone is uneven. Inconsistently cites sources.


Demonstrates a command of standard English conventions and cohesion, with few errors. Response includes language and tone appropriate to the audience, purpose, and specific requirements of the prompt. Cites sources using appropriate format with only minor errors.


Demonstrates and maintains a well-developed command of standard English conventions and cohesion, with few errors. Response includes language and tone consistently appropriate to the audience, purpose, and specific requirements of the prompt. Consistently cites sources using appropriate format.

Content Understanding


Attempts to include disciplinary content in argument, but understanding of content is weak; content is irrelevant, inappropriate, or inaccurate.


Briefly notes disciplinary content relevant to the prompt; shows basic or uneven understanding of content; minor errors in explanation.


Accurately presents disciplinary content relevant to the prompt with sufficient explanations that demonstrate understanding.


Integrates relevant and accurate disciplinary content with thorough explanations that demonstrate in-depth understanding.



Sean Houseknecht, Alex Shubert, Monica Cressman - Elizabethtown Area School District

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