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Download an editable outline here.

Assignment Overview

The Death Penalty is a heavy topic in Of Mice and Men. To wrap this unit up you will write a 5 paragraph argumentative essay responding to the following prompt, “Using Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men as evidence to support your claim, who has the right to decide who lives or dies?”

Project Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Apply their understanding of thesis statements by writing closed thesis statements using provided sentence frames.
  • Use textual evidence by applying the three-step process to every body paragraph.
  • Introduce the main idea of the essay by writing a hook and information that leads into a strong thesis.
  • Wrap up their argument by restating the thesis and linking the concept of their essay to a bigger idea.

Essay Requirements

  • Your paper should be written in blue or black pen or typed (no pencil)
  • Your paper should also fit the 5 paragraph essay format
  • Double spaced
  • Indent at the beginning of each paragraph
  • It must be free of all spelling and grammatical errors

Common Core Standards

  • 9-10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • 9-10.3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • 9-10.1.A: Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • 9-10.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Thesis Statement- 10 points

Use the Thesis Frames below to make sure you’ve met all the requirements for a strong thesis statement:

Thesis Frame 1:

In his novel, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck proves that RESPONSE TO PROMPT has the right to decide who lives and who dies through REASON 1, REASON 2, and REASON 3.

Thesis Frame 2:

In his novel, Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck uses REASON 1, REASON 2, and REASON 3 to prove the ANSWER TO THE PROMPT has the right to decide who lives and who dies. 

Body Paragraphs- 20 points each

Make sure your body paragraphs have all the elements listed below.

Topic Sentence

Use a topic sentence to explain your main point of focus for the body paragraph. Stretch each of the 3 reasons from your thesis into 3 topic sentences and then use these topic sentences to start your 3 body paragraphs.

Textual Evidence

Use the 3-Step Process to embed 2-3 pieces of textual evidence in each body paragraph.

  • Step 1– Introduce the focus of the quote. This may include necessary background information or words that manipulate the quote to serve your needs.
  • Step 2– Provide a paraphrase or direct quotation (begin with a verb and end with the parenthetical citation).
  • Step 3– Comment on why this part of the text is important, relevant to the prompt, thesis topic sentence or otherwise significant.


This is the last sentence of your paragraph. It restates that topic sentence (using different words) and it leaves the reader with a lasting impression. Since your paragraphs serve as body paragraphs, the clincher may also serve as a transitional sentence.

Introduction/Conclusion-15 points each

These two ideas are mirror images of one another. The introduction starts broad and narrows into a specific thesis statement. The conclusion starts narrow with your paraphrased thesis and then broadens into larger idea and lasting impression.


  • The first sentence should be the hook. This grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. They’re 3 ways to writing strong hooks:
    • Tell a short anecdote.
    • Reveal a startling fact.
    • Give an inspirational quote.
  • The second and third sentences should give background information on concepts being addressed in the essay.
  • The last sentence in your introduction should be your thesis statement.


  • The first sentence should restate your thesis (paraphrase).
  • The last 2-3 sentences will connect the essay to a larger idea, or leave the reader with a lasting impression or propose a call to action.