Part of apprenticing students into disciplinary thinking is supporting their understanding and use of language. The Useful Language tool guides students in noticing the ways disciplinary language is used in the mentor texts for each investigation, and offers models for their own writing. A key feature of the Useful Language tool is that language choices are offered to support writing each argument component, helping students understand that there is more than one way to make a claim, present evidence and reasoning, and respond to counterarguments. Language choices present the student's thinking, and the Useful Language tool reminds them about and supports them in presenting the important thinking moves that make an argument strong.
The Useful Language tool can be used at different times across the investigation. During discussions, teachers can post the Useful Language lists to alert students to ways they can introduce their claims, evidence, and reasoning. As students focus on the writing assignment in depth (typically on Day 4 after an initial review on Day 1 to set a purpose for the investigation), they can look at how the Mentor Text uses Useful Language to accomplish the purposes of the argument task. When they begin to take the notes from their Planning Graphic Organizers and turn them into sentences in their argument drafts, students can use the Useful Language tool to make choices about how they will introduce their own claims, evidence, and reasoning.
Example of Useful Language from Counterargument, Investigation #1