Digital Skills: Developing Online Assessment Skills in Everyday Classroom Activities Western Reserve Public Media

The Future is Kind of a Big Deal
This lesson uses society’s  fascination with science fiction and the future as a basis for writing an argument essay that evaluates Ray Bradbury’s accuracy in predicting the future in Fahrenheit 451.

I can:
  • Analyze literary text and evaluate its claims to real world situations

  • Write an argument essay using both fiction and informational texts

Tech Skills:
  • Editing

  • Keyboarding

  • Using online resources

Materials and Resources:

Lesson Plan — this is a link to the lesson plan via All the components of the lesson are available by clicking on the “links” that appear when you mouse over the image. 

Ohio Argument Writing Rubric

Accountable Talk Guidelines

Graphic Organizer — evaluating evidence & arguments

Grade Level:
  • 7th-12th Grades

Subject Area:
  • ELA

Activity 1

Show this video to start the discussion.

“What did Back to the Future get right?” — 10/21/2015 was the day Marty McFly visited in the movie Back to the Future 2. Leading up to this date there was quite the discussion of how well the movie predicted/portrayed the future date that has now come to pass.

Another example of a “global” focus on whether or not a science fiction book’s ideas came to pass in 1984 by George Orwell

Ask students to think about why we, as humans, are so fascinated by and obsessed with “the future.” After giving students a few minutes to think, ask them to respond to these two “Big” questions on (or a Google doc).

  • Why are we so hung up on the future?
  • Why are science fiction writers so good at predicting the future? Or are they?

Students will be given one of three articles to help them focus on the “Big” questions:

Following the activity, students will respond to the two big questions using the discussion board. Students craft their response and respond to others using the accountable talk guidelines. (You could also do this via Twitter, Padlet, or Socrative.)

Activity 2

Look back at the Back to the Future clip and the 1984 article and examine the authors’ claims and evidence. Students will work in pairs to complete the graphic organizer, then will discuss findings as a class.

Students will be partnered up (pairs/trios) and assigned a section of Beatty’s speech from Fahrenheit 451. They will identify the predictions within their sections and then they will research whether or not those predictions have come to pass. Groups will record the information about their section in a Google doc.

After each group has recorded its information, the class will review the results and as a class we will go through the process of crafting an argument together to model the expectation for the essay. We will use the TREE+C model for planning the essay. (Use whatever method works or is familiar to your own students)

Based on what students have read and discussed about how science fiction is written, science fiction’s relationship to predicting the future, and why science fiction is so popular today, students will write a short essay to explain the planning process they would use if they were going to be writing a science fiction story.

Activity 3

Students will pick a science fiction book or short story and have it approved by the teacher.

  • Students will examine the portrayal of the future world in the chosen selection.
  • Students will find examples of predictions made by the author about the future world in the chosen selection.
  • Students will research these predictions to see how accurate they were/are.
  • Students will write an argument essay in which they decide whether the author “got it right” or “missed the mark” in predicting the future.

Assignment prompt:
After reading and examining the future world in your selection, do you think that your author’s predictions for the future “got it right” or “missed the mark.” Write an argument essay that uses specific evidence from the selection to support your claim.

Essays will be evaluated using the Ohio Argument Writing Rubric

RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem

W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  1.  Establish a clear and thorough thesis to present a complex argument.
  2.  Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  3. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.
  4.  Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
  5. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  6. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

W.11-12.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

W.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.

W.11-12.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

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