Most students are well versed at forming opinions on just about anything that they experience in life. The skill students lack is the ability to effectively support their opinions. Although they have no problem reaching the conclusion that the food served in the cafeteria is good, they have a hard time expressing why they like it. Helping students understand and effectively support their opinions should be one focus for teaching the Evaluation essay. In addition, the process of evaluation enhances students' ability to determine which scholarly / informational sources are reliable.
1. Students will develop the ability to create and apply objective criteria for use in evaluation.
2. Students will demonstrate the ability to write effective thesis statements.
3. Students will support their thesis statements with textual evidence and information from outside sources.
This lesson plan is designed for a 4 credit class that meets twice a week (approximately 1:40 per meeting). It has also been designed with the belief that the students have already been introduced to writing thesis statements.
The goal of this lesson is two-fold. First, the students will practice establishing criteria by back-tracking through an evaluation to discover their preconceived criteria for evaluating films. Second, students will practice supporting their conclusions by using evidence from the film.
Inform the students that they will watch and evaluate the film Plan 9 from Outer Space. This film is generally considered to be one of the worst films ever made, but the students don’t need to know that. Simply show the film.
Following the film (there should be 15-20 minutes left of the class) ask the students to indicate by show of hands who thought the film was good, and who thought the film was bad. Then have them jot down their reasons for reaching their conclusions. After giving the class a few minutes to write down their ideas have them share, first the people who liked the film (there won’t be many), then those who did not. Write the reasons the students give on the board, and once there have been a good number of reasons given have the class categorize the reasons.
Once the list is completed (the end of class should be approaching), instruct the class to a write thesis statement expressing their evaluation of the film. Then they should outline an essay using the criteria that they feel are most important and the evidence that is appropriate for each criterion.