Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Writing Is Elementary, My Dear Watson

Writing Paragraphs With Evidence and Reasoning

K20 Center, Bobbi Gore | Published: November 22nd, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature, British Literature, Composition, World Literature
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1-2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 65 minutes


To support students' ability to write persuasive essays, this lesson will scaffold aspects of argumentation through paragraph development. Students will first review the use of evidence and reasoning to support a claim by performing a CER analysis of a comic strip. Next, students will work both collaboratively and individually to identify evidence, discuss the evidence, and write a well-developed paragraph. Students will then peer review their classmates' paragraph and compose a tweet to reflect on what they have learned.

Essential Question(s)

Why is it important to be able to construct a strong, logical argument that is supported by evidence?



Students look at a comic and do a two-minute Quick Write based upon a prompt that asks students to develop a claim or stance.


Students work collaboratively to support their claim with evidence from the comic and create reasoning from the evidence. 


Students use Lines of Agreement to defend their claim based upon evidence and reasoning. 


Students write a well-developed argumentative paragraph based on CER statements that they have developed. 


Students peer review each other's paragraphs and compose tweets to reflect on the writing process. 


  • Projector

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Slylock Fox Brain Boggler comic (attached, one per student)

  • CER Outline (attached, one per student)

  • CER Paragraph Guide (attached, one per student)

  • CER Peer Review Rubric (attached, one per student)

  • Tweet Up Template (attached, one per student) or access to Twitter


In the Lesson Slides, introduce students to the essential question on slide 3 and the lesson objective on slide 4.

Go to slide 5 to show the Slylock Fox comic, or pass out copies of Slylock Fox Brain Boggler to each student. Ask students to study the comic and the prompt closely and complete a two-minute Quick Write about what they observe.


Go to slide 6. Pass out copies of the CER Outline, and discuss the CER strategy as a class. The "C" stands for claim, the "E" stands for evidence, and the "R" stands for reasoning. The CER instructional strategy assists students in identifying a claim along with evidence to support the claim and reasoning for the evidence.  

Once students have an idea of how CER statements work, they can begin brainstorming and organizing their ideas using the graphic organizer in the CER Outline. Students do not need to fill out all five items, but they should find as much evidence as they can. If students need extra guidance, you can show them the example on slide 7. Students should follow the following basic process to fill in their graphic organizers:

  • Decide on the claim. Is Smitty telling the truth?

  • Find evidence (facts) from the comic to back up the claim. For example, "Smitty is covered in eggs."

  • Write comments to provide reasoning about the evidence. For example, "Obviously, someone threw eggs all over Smitty. No one would do that to themselves."


Go to slide 8. Use the Lines of Agreement strategy to give students the opportunity to defend their claims. Have students who believe Smitty is telling the truth form one line and students who believe he is lying form another line facing the first line.

Have students who are facing each other take turns sharing out one piece of evidence with their reasoning to defend their claim. 

Give students an opportunity to switch sides if they are convinced by the other side's argument.


Go to slide 9, and pass out copies of the CER Paragraph Guide handout. Have students use this handout as a guide to write a paragraph that includes a claim, evidence, and reasoning. Their paragraph should explain why Smitty is either lying or telling the truth. 


Go to slide 10. Pass out the CER Peer Review Rubric, and have each student find a partner. Ask pairs to peer review each other's paragraphs and discuss the use of evidence and reasoning.

When they feel confident with their writing, have the partners discuss the following questions:

  • How did using evidence and reasoning help you argue your claim during Lines of Agreement?

  • How did using evidence and reasoning help or hinder your writing process?

Go to slide 11. Using the Tweet Up strategy, have students compose a tweet to answer the following question: How can you use evidence and reasoning outside of writing?

  1. Have students answer the question with a "tweet."

  2. A "tweet" must be 140 characters or less. This keeps your students' answers concise. Spaces and punctuation count as characters, too.

  3. If you use Twitter, make sure your students send the tweet to you by including your Twitter handle.

  4. Create a hashtag so the tweets are easy to find.

  5. Share the tweets with the class.

When students are finished, ask them to share their tweets with the class.