A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Argumentative Writing

February 7, 2016

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For seven years, I was a writing teacher.  Yes, I was certified to teach the full spectrum of English language arts—literature, grammar and usage, speech, drama, and so on—but my absolute favorite, the thing I loved doing the most, was teaching students how to write.

Most of the material on this site is directed at all teachers. I look for and put together resources that would appeal to any teacher who teaches any subject. That practice will continue for as long as I keep this up. But over the next year or so, I plan to also share more of what I know about teaching students to write. Although I know many of the people who visit here are not strictly English language arts teachers, my hope is that these posts will provide tons of value to those who are, and to those who teach all subjects, including writing.

So let’s begin with argumentative writing, or persuasive writing, as many of us used to call it. This overview will be most helpful to those who are new to teaching writing, or teachers who have not gotten good results with the approach you have taken up to now. I don’t claim to have the definitive answer on how to do this, but the method I share here worked pretty well for me, and it might do the same for you. If you are an experienced English language arts teacher, you probably already have a system for teaching this skill that you like. Then again, I’m always interested in how other people do the things I can already do; maybe you’re curious like that, too.

Before I start, I should note that what I describe in this post is a fairly formulaic style of essay writing. It’s not exactly the 5-paragraph essay, but it definitely builds on that model. I strongly believe students should be shown how to move past those kinds of structures into a style of writing that’s more natural and fitting to the task and audience, but I also think they should start with something that’s pretty clearly organized.

So here’s how I teach argumentative essay writing.

Step 1: Watch How It’s Done

One of the most effective ways to improve student writing is to show them mentor texts, examples of excellent writing within the genre students are about to attempt themselves. Ideally, this writing would come from real publications and not be fabricated by me in order to embody the form I’m looking for. Although most experts on writing instruction employ some kind of mentor text study, the person I learned it from best was Katie Wood Ray in her book Study Driven (links to the book: Bookshop.org | Amazon ).

Since I want the writing to be high quality and the subject matter to be high interest, I might choose pieces like Jessica Lahey’s Students Who Lose Recess Are the Ones Who Need it Most  and David Bulley’s School Suspensions Don’t Work .

I would have students read these texts, compare them, and find places where the authors used evidence to back up their assertions. I would ask students which author they feel did the best job of influencing the reader, and what suggestions they would make to improve the writing. I would also ask them to notice things like stories, facts and statistics, and other things the authors use to develop their ideas. Later, as students work on their own pieces, I would likely return to these pieces to show students how to execute certain writing moves.

Step 2: Informal Argument, Freestyle

Although many students might need more practice in writing an effective argument, many of them are excellent at arguing in person. To help them make this connection, I would have them do some informal debate on easy, high-interest topics. An activity like This or That (one of the classroom icebreakers I talked about last year) would be perfect here: I read a statement like “Women have the same opportunities in life as men.” Students who agree with the statement move to one side of the room, and those who disagree move to the other side. Then they take turns explaining why they are standing in that position. This ultimately looks a little bit like a debate, as students from either side tend to defend their position to those on the other side.

Every class of students I have ever had, from middle school to college, has loved loved LOVED this activity. It’s so simple, it gets them out of their seats, and for a unit on argument, it’s an easy way to get them thinking about how the art of argument is something they practice all the time.

Step 3: Informal Argument, Not so Freestyle

Once students have argued without the support of any kind of research or text, I would set up a second debate; this time with more structure and more time to research ahead of time. I would pose a different question, supply students with a few articles that would provide ammunition for either side, then give them time to read the articles and find the evidence they need.

Next, we’d have a Philosophical Chairs debate (learn about this in my  discussion strategies post), which is very similar to “This or That,” except students use textual evidence to back up their points, and there are a few more rules. Here they are still doing verbal argument, but the experience should make them more likely to appreciate the value of evidence when trying to persuade.

Before leaving this step, I would have students transfer their thoughts from the discussion they just had into something that looks like the opening paragraph of a written argument: A statement of their point of view, plus three reasons to support that point of view. This lays the groundwork for what’s to come.

Step 4: Introduction of the Performance Assessment

Next I would show students their major assignment, the performance assessment that they will work on for the next few weeks. What does this look like? It’s generally a written prompt that describes the task, plus the rubric I will use to score their final product.

Anytime I give students a major writing assignment, I let them see these documents very early on. In my experience, I’ve found that students appreciate having a clear picture of what’s expected of them when beginning a writing assignment. At this time, I also show them a model of a piece of writing that meets the requirements of the assignment. Unlike the mentor texts we read on day 1, this sample would be something teacher-created (or an excellent student model from a previous year) to fit the parameters of the assignment.

Step 5: Building the Base

Before letting students loose to start working on their essays, I make sure they have a solid plan for writing. I would devote at least one more class period to having students consider their topic for the essay, drafting a thesis statement, and planning the main points of their essay in a graphic organizer.

I would also begin writing my own essay on a different topic. This has been my number one strategy for teaching students how to become better writers. Using a document camera or overhead projector, I start from scratch, thinking out loud and scribbling down my thoughts as they come. When students see how messy the process can be, it becomes less intimidating for them. They begin to understand how to take the thoughts that are stirring around in your head and turn them into something that makes sense in writing.

For some students, this early stage might take a few more days, and that’s fine: I would rather spend more time getting it right at the pre-writing stage than have a student go off willy-nilly, draft a full essay, then realize they need to start over. Meanwhile, students who have their plans in order will be allowed to move on to the next step.

Step 6: Writer’s Workshop

The next seven to ten days would be spent in writer’s workshop, where I would start class with a mini-lesson about a particular aspect of craft. I would show them how to choose credible, relevant evidence, how to skillfully weave evidence into an argument, how to consider the needs of an audience, and how to correctly cite sources. Once each mini-lesson was done, I would then give students the rest of the period to work independently on their writing. During this time, I would move around the room, helping students solve problems and offering feedback on whatever part of the piece they are working on. I would encourage students to share their work with peers and give feedback at all stages of the writing process.

If I wanted to make the unit even more student-centered, I would provide the mini-lessons in written or video format and let students work through them at their own pace, without me teaching them. (To learn more about this approach, read this post on self-paced learning ).

As students begin to complete their essays, the mini-lessons would focus more on matters of style and usage. I almost never bother talking about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or usage until students have a draft that’s pretty close to done. Only then do we start fixing the smaller mistakes.

Step 7: Final Assessment

Finally, the finished essays are handed in for a grade. At this point, I’m pretty familiar with each student’s writing and have given them verbal (and sometimes written) feedback throughout the unit; that’s why I make the writer’s workshop phase last so long. I don’t really want students handing in work until they are pretty sure they’ve met the requirements to the best of their ability. I also don’t necessarily see “final copies” as final; if a student hands in an essay that’s still really lacking in some key areas, I will arrange to have that student revise it and resubmit for a higher grade.

So that’s it. If you haven’t had a lot of success teaching students to write persuasively, and if the approach outlined here is different from what you’ve been doing, give it a try. And let’s keep talking: Use the comments section below to share your techniques or ask questions about the most effective ways to teach argumentative writing.

Want this unit ready-made?

If you’re a writing teacher in grades 7-12 and you’d like a classroom-ready unit like the one described above, including mini-lessons, sample essays, and a library of high-interest online articles to use for gathering evidence, take a look at my Argumentative Writing unit. Just click on the image below and you’ll be taken to a page where you can read more and see a detailed preview of what’s included.

What to Read Next

argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

Categories: Instruction , Podcast

Tags: English language arts , Grades 6-8 , Grades 9-12 , teaching strategies

58 Comments

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This is useful information. In teaching persuasive speaking/writing I have found Monroe’s Motivated sequence very useful and productive. It is a classic model that immediately gives a solid structure for students.

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Thanks for the recommendation, Bill. I will have to look into that! Here’s a link to more information on Monroe’s Motivated sequence, for anyone who wants to learn more: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/MonroeMotivatedSequence.htm

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What other sites do you recommend for teacher use on providing effective organizational structure in argumentative writing? As a K-12 Curriculum Director, I find that when teachers connect with and understand the organizational structure, they are more effective in their teaching/delivery.

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Hey Jessica, in addition to the steps outlined here, you might want to check out Jenn’s post on graphic organizers . Graphic organizers are a great tool that you can use in any phase of a lesson. Using them as a prewrite can help students visualize the argument and organize their thoughts. There’s a link in that post to the Graphic Organizer Multi-Pack that Jenn has for sale on her Teachers Pay Teachers site, which includes two versions of a graphic organizer you can use specifically for argument organization. Otherwise, if there’s something else you had in mind, let us know and we can help you out. Thanks!

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Dear Jennifer Gonzalez,

You are generous with your gift of lighting the path… I hardly ever write (never before) , but I must today… THANK YOU… THANK YOU….THANK YOU… mostly for reading your great teachings… So your valuable teachings will even be easy to benefit all the smart people facing challenge of having to deal with adhd…

I am not a teacher… but forever a student…someone who studied English as 2nd language, with a science degree & adhd…

You truly are making a difference in our World…

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Thanks so much, Rita! I know Jenn will appreciate this — I’ll be sure to share with her!

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Love it! Its simple and very fruitful . I can feel how dedicated you are! Thanks alot Jen

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Great examples of resources that students would find interesting. I enjoyed reading your article. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. Thanks!

You’re welcome, Sheryl!

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Students need to be writing all the time about a broad range of topics, but I love the focus here on argumentative writing because if you choose the model writing texts correctly, you can really get the kids engaged in the process and in how they can use this writing in real-world situations!

I agree, Laura. I think an occasional tight focus on one genre can help them grow leaps and bounds in the skills specific to that type of writing. Later, in less structured situations, they can then call on those skills when that kind of thinking is required.

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This is really helpful! I used it today and put the recess article in a Google Doc and had the kids identify anecdotal, statistic, and ‘other’ types of evidence by highlighting them in three different colors. It worked well! Tomorrow we’ll discuss which of the different types of evidence are most convincing and why.

Love that, Shanna! Thanks for sharing that extra layer.

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Greetings Ms. Gonzales. I was wondering if you had any ideas to help students develop the cons/against side of their argument within their writing? Please advise. Thanks.

Hi Michael,

Considering audience and counterarguments are an important part of the argumentative writing process. In the Argumentative Writing unit Jenn includes specific mini-lessons that teach kids how, when and where to include opposing views in their writing. In the meantime, here’s a video that might also be helpful.

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Hi, Thank you very much for sharing your ideas. I want to share also the ideas in the article ‘Already Experts: Showing Students How Much They Know about Writing and Reading Arguments’ by Angela Petit and Edna Soto…they explain a really nice activity to introduce argumentative writing. I have applied it many times and my students not only love it but also display a very clear pattern as the results in the activity are quite similar every time. I hope you like it.

Lorena Perez

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I’d like to thank you you for this excellence resource. It’s a wonderful addition to the informative content that Jennifer has shared.

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What do you use for a prize?

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I looked at the unit, and it looks and sounds great. The description says there are 4 topics. Can you tell me the topics before I purchase? We start argument in 5th grade, and I want to make sure the topics are different from those they’ve done the last 5 years before purchasing. Thanks!

Hi Carrie! If you go to the product page on TPT and open up the preview, you’ll see the four topics on the 4th page in more detail, but here they are: Social Networking in School (should social media sites be blocked in school?), Cell Phones in Class, Junk Food in School, and Single-Sex Education (i.e., genders separated). Does that help?

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I teach 6th grade English in a single gendered (all-girls) class. We just finished an argument piece but I will definitely cycle back your ideas when we revisit argumentation. Thanks for the fabulous resources!

Glad to hear it, Madelyn!

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I’m not a writing teacher and honestly haven’t been taught on how to teach writing. I’m a history teacher. I read this and found it helpful but have questions. First I noticed that amount of time dedicated to the task in terms of days. My questions are how long is a class period? I have my students for about 45 minutes. I also saw you mentioned in the part about self-paced learning that mini-lessons could be written or video format. I love these ideas. Any thoughts on how to do this with almost no technology in the room and low readers to non-readers? I’m trying to figure out how to balance teaching a content class while also teaching the common core skills. Thank you for any consideration to my questions.

Hey Jones, To me, a class period is anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour; definitely varies from school to school. As for the question about doing self-paced with very little tech? I think binders with written mini-lessons could work well, as well as a single computer station or tablet hooked up to a class set of videos. Obviously you’d need to be more diligent about rotating students in and out of these stations, but it’s an option at least. You might also give students access to the videos through computers in other locations at school (like the library) and give them passes to watch. The thing about self-paced learning, as you may have seen in the self-paced post , is that if students need extra teacher support (as you might find with low readers or non-readers), they would spend more one-on-one time with the teacher, while the higher-level students would be permitted to move more quickly on their own. Does that help?

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My primary goal for next semester is to increase academic discussion and make connections from discussion to writing, so I love how you launch this unit with lessons like Philosophical Chairs. I am curious, however, what is the benefit of the informal argument before the not-so-informal argument? My students often struggle to listen to one another, so I’m wondering if I should start with the more formal, structured version. Or, am I overthinking the management? Thanks so much for input.

Yikes! So sorry your question slipped through, and we’re just now getting to this, Sarah. The main advantage of having kids first engage in informal debate is that it helps them get into an argumentative mindset and begin to appreciate the value of using research to support their claims. If you’ve purchased the unit, you can read more about this in the Overview.

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My 6th graders are progressing through their argumentative essay. I’m providing mini lessons along the way that target where most students are in their essay. Your suggestions will be used. I’ve chosen to keep most writing in class and was happy to read that you scheduled a lot of class time for the writing. Students need to feel comfortable knowing that writing is a craft and needs to evolve over time. I think more will get done in class and it is especially important for the struggling writers to have peers and the teacher around while they write. Something that I had students do that they liked was to have them sit in like-topic groups to create a shared document where they curated information that MIGHT be helpful along the way. By the end of the essay, all will use a fantastic add-on called GradeProof which helps to eliminate most of the basic and silly errors that 6th graders make.

Debbi! I LOVE the idea of a shared, curated collection of resources! That is absolutely fantastic! Are you using a Google Doc for this? Other curation tools you might consider are Padlet and Elink .

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thanks v much for all this information

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Love this! What do you take as grades in the meantime? Throughout this 2 week stretch?

Ideally, you wouldn’t need to take grades at all, waiting until the final paper is done to give one grade. If your school requires more frequent grades, you could assign small point values for getting the incremental steps done: So in Step 3 (when students have to write a paragraph stating their point of view) you could take points for that. During the writer’s workshop phase, you might give points for completion of a rough draft and participation points for peer review (ideally, they’d get some kind of feedback on the quality of feedback they give to one another). Another option would be to just give a small, holistic grade for each week based on the overall integrity of their work–are they staying on task? Making small improvements to their writing each day? Taking advantage of the resources? If students are working diligently through the process, that should be enough. But again, the assessment (grades) should really come from that final written product, and if everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing during the workshop phase, most students should have pretty good scores on that final product. Does that help?

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Awesome Step 2! Teaching mostly teenagers in Northern Australia I find students’ verbal arguments are much more finely honed than their written work.

To assist with “building the base” I’ve always found sentence starters an essential entry point for struggling students. We have started using the ‘PEARL’ method for analytical and persuasive writing.

If it helps here a free scaffold for the method:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/FREE-Paragraph-Scaffold-PEEL-to-PEARL-3370676

Thanks again,

Thank you for sharing this additional resource! It’s excellent!

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I’ve been scouring the interwebs looking for some real advice on how I can help my struggling 9th grader write better. I can write. Since it comes naturally for me, I have a hard time breaking it down into such tiny steps that he can begin to feel less overwhelmed. I LOVE the pre-writing ideas here. My son is a fabulous arguer. I need to help him use those powers for the good of his writing skills. Do you have a suggestion on what I else I can be using for my homeschooled son? Or what you may have that could work well for home use?

Hi Melinda,

You might be interested in taking a look at Jenn’s Argumentative Writing unit which she mentions at the end of the post . Hope this helps!

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Mam it would be good if you could post some steps of different writing and some samples as well so it can be useful for the students.

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Hi Aalia! My name is Holly, and I work as a Customer Experience Manager for Cult of Pedagogy. It just so happens that in the near future, Jenn is going to release a narrative writing unit, so keep an eye out for that! As far as samples, the argumentative writing unit has example essays included, and I’m sure the narrative unit will as well. But, to find the examples, you have to purchase the unit from Teachers Pay Teachers.

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I just want to say that this helped me tremendously in teaching argument to 8th Graders this past school year, which is a huge concept on their state testing in April. I felt like they were very prepared, and they really enjoyed the verbal part of it, too! I have already implemented these methods into my unit plan for argument for my 11th grade class this year. Thank you so much for posting all of these things! : )

-Josee` Vaughn

I’m so glad to hear it, Josee!!

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Love your blog! It is one of the best ones.

I am petrified of writing. I am teaching grade 8 in September and would love some suggestions as I start planning for the year. Thanks!

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This is genius! I can’t wait to get started tomorrow teaching argument. It’s always something that I have struggled with, and I’ve been teaching for 18 years. I have a class of 31 students, mostly boys, several with IEPs. The self-paced mini-lessons will help tremendously.

So glad you liked it, Britney!

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My students will begin the journey into persuasion and argument next week and your post cemented much of my thinking around how to facilitate the journey towards effective, enthusiastic argumentative writing.

I use your rubrics often to outline task expectations for my students and the feedback from them is how useful breaking every task into steps can be as they are learning new concepts.

Additionally, we made the leap into blogging as a grade at https://mrsdsroadrunners.edublogs.org/2019/01/04/your-future/ It feels much like trying to learn to change a tire while the car is speeding down the highway. Reading your posts over the past years was a factor in embracing the authentic audience. Thank You! Trish

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I love reading and listening to your always helpful tips, tricks, and advice! I was wondering if you had any thoughts on creative and engaging ways to have students share their persuasive writing? My 6th students are just finishing up our persuasive writing where we read the book “Oh, Rats” by Albert Marrin and used the information gathered to craft a persuasive piece to either eliminate or protect rats and other than just reading their pieces to one another, I have been trying to think of more creative ways to share. I thought about having a debate but (un)fortunately all my kids are so sweet and are on the same side of the argument – Protect the Rats! Any ideas?

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Hi Kiley! Thanks for the positive feedback! So glad to hear that you are finding value in Cult of Pedagogy! Here are a few suggestions that you may be interested in trying with your students:

-A gallery walk: Students could do this virtually if their writing is stored online or hard copies of their writing. Here are some different ways that you could use gallery walks: Enliven Class Discussions With Gallery Walks

-Students could give each other feedback using a tech tool like Flipgrid . You could assign students to small groups or give them accountability partners. In Flipgrid, you could have students sharing back and forth about their writing and their opinions.

I hope this helps!

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I love the idea of mentor texts for all of these reading and writing concepts. I saw a great one on Twitter with one text and it demonstrated 5-6 reasons to start a paragraph, all in two pages of a book! Is there a location that would have suggestions/lists of mentor texts for these areas? Paragraphs, sentences, voice, persuasive writing, expository writing, etc. It seems like we could share this info, save each other some work, and curate a great collection of mentor text for English Language Arts teachers. Maybe it already exists?

Hi Maureen,

Here are some great resources that you may find helpful:

Craft Lessons Second Edition: Teaching Writing K-8 Write Like This: Teaching Real-World Writing Through Modeling and Mentor Texts and Mentor Texts, 2nd edition: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6

Thanks so much! I’ll definitely look into these.

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I love the steps for planning an argumentative essay writing. When we return from Christmas break, we will begin starting a unit on argumentative writing. I will definitely use the steps. I especially love Step #2. As a 6th grade teacher, my students love to argue. This would set the stage of what argumentative essay involves. Thanks for sharing.

So glad to hear this, Gwen. Thanks for letting us know!

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Great orientation, dear Jennifer. The step-by-step carefully planned pedagogical perspectives have surely added in the information repository of many.

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Hi Jennifer,

I hope you are well. I apologise for the incorrect spelling in the previous post.

Thank you very much for introducing this effective instruction for teaching argumentative writing. I am the first year PhD student at Newcastle University, UK. My PhD research project aims to investigate teaching argumentative writing to Chinese university students. I am interested in the Argumentative Writing unit you have designed and would like to buy it. I would like to see the preview of this book before deciding to purchase it. I clicked on the image BUT the font of the preview is so small and cannot see the content clearly. I am wondering whether it could be possible for you to email me a detailed preview of what’s included. I would highly appreciate if you could help me with this.

Thank you very much in advance. Looking forward to your reply.

Take care and all the very best, Chang

Hi Chang! Jenn’s Argumentative Writing Unit is actually a teaching unit geared toward grades 7-12 with lessons, activities, etc. If you click here click here to view the actual product, you can click on the green ‘View Preview’ button to see a pretty detailed preview of what’s offered. Once you open the preview, there is the option to zoom in so you can see what the actual pages of the unit are like. I hope this helps!

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Great Content!

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Another teacher showed me one of your posts, and now I’ve read a dozen of them. With teaching students to argue, have you ever used the “What’s going on in this picture?” https://www.nytimes.com/column/learning-whats-going-on-in-this-picture?module=inline I used it last year and thought it was a non-threatening way to introduce learners to using evidence to be persuasive since there was no text.

I used to do something like this to help kids learn how to make inferences. Hadn’t thought of it from a persuasive standpoint. Interesting.

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this is a very interesting topic, thanks!

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Hi! I’m a teacher too! I was looking for inspiration and I found your article and thought you might find this online free tool interesting that helps make all students participate meaningfully and engage in a topic. https://www.kialo-edu.com/

This tool is great for student collaboration and to teach argumentative writing in an innovative way. I hope this helps!

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10 Ways to Teach Argument-Writing With The New York Times

argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

By Katherine Schulten

  • Oct. 5, 2017

Updated, Feb. 2020

How can writing change people’s understanding of the world? How can it influence public opinion? How can it lead to meaningful action?

Below, we round up the best pieces we’ve published over the years about how to use the riches of The Times’s Opinion section p to teach and learn.

We’ve sorted the ideas — many of them from teachers — into two sections. The first helps students do close-readings of editorials and Op-Eds, as well as Times Op-Docs, Op-Art and editorial cartoons. The second suggests ways for students to discover their own voices on the issues they care about. We believe they, too, can “write to change the world.”

Ideas for Reading Opinion Pieces

1. Explore the role of a newspaper opinion section.

How would your students describe the differences between the news sections of a newspaper and the opinion section? What do they have in common? How do they differ? Where else in newspapers are opinions — for instance, in the form of reviews or personal essays — often published?

Bring in a few print copies of a newspaper, whether The Times or a local or school paper, and have your students work in small groups to contrast a news page with an opinion page and see what they discover.

Though this piece, “ And Now a Word From Op-Ed ,” is from 2004, it still provides a useful and quick overview of The Times’s Opinion section, even if the section then was mostly a print product. It begins this way:

Here at the Op-Ed page, there are certain questions that are as constant as the seasons. How does one get published? Who chooses the articles? Does The Times have an agenda? And, of course, why was my submission rejected? Now that I’ve been Op-Ed editor for a year, let me try to offer a few answers.

This 2013 article, “ Op-Ed and You ,” also helps both readers of the section, and potential writers for it, understand how Times Opinion works:

Anything can be an Op-Ed. We’re not only interested in policy, politics or government. We’re interested in everything, if it’s opinionated and we believe our readers will find it worth reading. We are especially interested in finding points of view that are different from those expressed in Times editorials. If you read the editorials, you know that they present a pretty consistent liberal point of view. There are lots of other ways of looking at the world, to the left and right of that position, and we are particularly interested in presenting those points of view.

After students have read one or both of these overviews, invite them to explore the Times’s Opinion section , noting what they find and raising questions as they go. You might ask:

• What pieces look most interesting to you? Why?

• What subsections are featured in the links across the top of the section (“Columnists”; “Series”; “Editorials”; “Op-Ed”; “Letters”; etc.) and what do you find in each? How do they seem to work together?

• How do you think the editors of this section decide what to publish?

• What role does this section seem to play in The Times as a whole?

• Would you ever want to write an Op-Ed or a letter to the editor? What might you write about?

If your students are confused about where and how news and opinion can sometimes bleed together, our lesson plan, News and ‘News Analysis’: Navigating Fact and Opinion in The Times , can help.

And to go even deeper, this lesson plan from 2010 focuses on a special section produced that year, “ Op-Ed at 40: Four Decades of Argument and Illustration .” It helps students understand the role the Op-Ed page has played at The Times since 1970, and links to many classic pieces.

2. Know the difference between fact and opinion.

In our lesson plan Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion , you’ll find activities students can use with any day’s Times to practice.

For instance, you might invite them to read an Op-Ed and underline the facts and circle the opinion statements they find, then compare their work in small groups.

Or, read a news report and an opinion piece on the same topic and look for the differences. For example, which of the first paragraphs below about the shooting in Las Vegas is from a news article and which is from an opinion piece? How can they tell?

Paragraph A: After the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, the impulse of politicians will be to lower flags, offer moments of silence, and lead a national mourning. Yet what we need most of all isn’t mourning, but action to lower the toll of guns in America. (From “ Preventing Mass Shootings Like the Vegas Strip Attack ”) Paragraph B: A gunman on a high floor of a Las Vegas hotel rained a rapid-fire barrage on an outdoor concert festival on Sunday night, leaving at least 59 people dead, injuring 527 others, and sending thousands of terrified survivors fleeing for cover, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. (From “ Multiple Weapons Found in Las Vegas Gunman’s Hotel Room ”)

3. Analyze the use of rhetorical strategies like ethos , pathos and logos.

Do your students know what ethos , pathos and logos mean? The video above, “ What Aristotle and Joshua Bell Can Teach Us About Persuasion ,” can help. We use it in this lesson plan , in which students explore the use of these rhetorical devices via the Op-Ed “ Rap Lyrics on Trial ” and more. The lesson also helps students try out their own use of rhetoric to make a persuasive argument.

In the post, we quote a New Yorker article, “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You,” that explains the strategies in a way that students may readily understand:

In 350 B.C., Aristotle was already wondering what could make content — in his case, a speech — persuasive and memorable, so that its ideas would pass from person to person. The answer, he argued, was three principles: ethos, pathos, and logos. Content should have an ethical appeal, an emotional appeal, or a logical appeal. A rhetorician strong on all three was likely to leave behind a persuaded audience. Replace rhetorician with online content creator, and Aristotle’s insights seem entirely modern. Ethics, emotion, logic — it’s credible and worthy, it appeals to me, it makes sense. If you look at the last few links you shared on your Facebook page or Twitter stream, or the last article you e-mailed or recommended to a friend, chances are good that they’ll fit into those categories.

Take the New Yorker’s advice and invite them to choose viral content from their social networks and identify ethos , pathos and logos at work.

Or, use the handouts and ideas in our post An Argument-Writing Unit: Crafting Student Editorials , in which Kayleen Everitt, an eighth-grade English teacher, has her students take on advertising the same way.

Finally, if you’d like a recommendation for a specific Op-Ed that will richly reward student analysis of these elements, Kabby Hong, a teacher at Verona Area High School in Wisconsin, who will be our guest on our “Write to Change the World” webinar, recommends Nicholas Kristof’s column “ If Americans Love Moms, Why Do We Let Them Die? “

4. Identify claims and evidence.

The Common Core Standards put argument front and center in American education, and even young readers are now expected to be able to identify claims in opinion pieces and find the evidence to support them.

We have a number of lesson plans that can help.

First, Constructing Arguments: “Room for Debate” and the Common Core Standards , uses an Opinion feature that, though now defunct, can still be a great resource for teachers. Use the archives of Room for Debate , which featured succinct arguments on interesting topics from a number of points of view, to introduce students to perspectives on everything from complex geopolitical or theological topics to whether people are giving Too Much Information in today’s Facebook world .

We also have two comprehensive lesson plans — For the Sake of Argument: Writing Persuasively to Craft Short, Evidence-Based Editorials and I Don’t Think So: Writing Effective Counterarguments — that were written to support students in crafting their own editorials for our annual contest . In both, we first introduce readers to “mentor texts,” from The Times and elsewhere, that help them see how effective claims, evidence and counterclaims function in making a strong argument.

Finally, if you’re looking for a fun way to practice, we often hear from teachers that our What’s Going On in This Picture? feature works well. To participate, students must make a claim about what they believe is “going on” in a work of Times photojournalism stripped of its caption, then come up with evidence to support what they say.

5. Adopt a columnist.

This Is What a Refugee Looks Like

If elena, 14, is sent back to her country, she may be murdered..

VISUAL AUDIO Nick debarks plane B-roll streets of Mexico, B-roll rural Mexico, on truck, train passing Nick [VO]: We’re in Southern Mexico on the Guatemala-Mexico border, an area where you have hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, in many cases aiming to get to the US. B-roll people getting on bus Nick [VO]: These are not economic migrants. These are people who are fleeing gangs and sexual violence. Nick talking to women outside refugee agency INTV Nick B-roll Tapachula sky Nick [VO]:The homicide rates in Central America are some of the highest in the world. If you or I were there, we would be fleeing this as well. INSERT TITLE CARD Nick greeting Brenda Nick walks up steps to apartment Nick: Hola Brenda, Buenos dias. Brenda: Buenos dia, que tal? Nick [VO]: One of the people we met, Brenda, has applied for refugee status for her and for her daughters and she’s waiting. Nick meets Brenda’s children Translator: Hello. What’s your name? Kimberly: Kimberly. Nick: Kimberly, okay. Translator: She’s Kimberly. Brenda: Nestor Nick: Nestor! How are you? Inside Brenda’s apartment Nick talking to Elena Brenda: She’s Zoila Elena Nick: Elena, you are 14? Is that right? Translator: You’re 14 years old, right? Elena: Si. Nick: Kimberly… once? Elena: Doce. Nick: Doce! Translator: It’s twelve now. Nick: Okay. ElenaB-roll washing up in apartment, preparing chicken feet Her mother joins her INTV Elena on stairs Elena: My family calls me Elena. The house where I lived was in Honduras. Before, in our neighborhood, you could go out at whatever time you wanted, you could go out to play. But now these gangs arrived, the men from the 18th Street Gang, they started to establish rules. Everything was different, and that’s when our mother brought us here. Nick interviewing Elena inside house CU Brenda crying Nick: There’s special dangers for girls growing up from the maras . Did you have any girlfriends who were attacked by boys, did you worry about that happening to you? Elena: Yes I know someone. She was dating someone from the 18th Street Gang. They forced her by saying that if she didn’t join them… they would kill her whole family. So that nothing would happen to her family she had to do it. So they arranged to meet at the river. And she went to the river. She ended up getting raped. And when she left the river. she came out with a bullet in here and had to walk naked to her house. Well from then on we didn’t hear from her again. Nick: So you saw her coming from the river, naked, bleeding from a gunshot wound in the stomach? Elena: I was just like this, and I was shocked. But I couldn’t do anything because the gangsters were there and… if they would see us helping her, something could have happened to us. Nick: Did the gang members ever pay attention to you in ways that made you feel dangerous, that they might do the same thing to you? Elena: And there was one that told me that if I didn’t go out with him, he was going to kill my mom and dad. So I sent him a text message saying yes, agreeing to it. Nick: And how old were you when he wanted you to be his girlfriend? Elena: Eleven and a half years old. Translator: Eleven years. Nick: And you were able to say no to him then? Elena: No... because if I didn’t agree... he would have killed my family. Because he forced me.... even though I did not want to. So, I had to say yes... in order to protect my family. B-roll border checkpoint INTV Nick Nick [VO]: The United States and Mexico together have sent back 800,000 adults over the last 5 years, and 40,000 children to just those 3 countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Brenda and her kids inside apartment Brenda: I think I’m moving forward, whether or not I have to go through, what I already went through. I don’t have anywhere else to go. Nick [VO]: If they’re sent back, her daughters will be perhaps killed and preyed upon by the gangs. Nick in taxi Brenda’s family in apartment Nick [VO]: What would you do if you were Elena? Stay in Honduras and be forced into a relationship with a gang member? I doubt it. Elena in apartment with family INTV Elena Elena: And now we are moving from one place to another, and people think we are less important because we are immigrants. But they don’t know what we are running from.

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We have heard from many teachers over the years that a favorite assignment is to have students each “adopt” a different newspaper columnist, and follow him or her over weeks or months, noting the issues they focus on and the rhetorical strategies they use to make their cases. Throughout, students can compare what they find — and, of course, apply what they learn to their own writing.

One teacher, Charles Costello, wrote up the details of his yearlong “Follow a Columnist” project for us. If you would like to try it with The Times, here are the current Op-Ed columnists:

Charles M. Blow

Jamelle Bouie

David Brooks

Frank Bruni

Roger Cohen

Gail Collins

Ross Douthat

Maureen Dowd

Thomas L. Friedman

Michelle Goldberg

Nicholas Kristof

Paul Krugman

David Leonhardt

Farhad Manjoo

Jennifer Senior

Bret Stephens

6. Explore visual argument-making via Times Op-Art, editorial cartoons and Op-Docs.

The New York Times regularly commissions artists and cartoonists to create work to accompany Opinion pieces. How do illustrations like the one above add meaning to a text, while grabbing readers’ attention at the same time? What can students infer about the argument being made in an Op-Ed article by looking at the illustration alone?

In this lesson plan , students investigate how art works together with text to emphasize a point of view. They then create their own original illustrations to go with a Times editorial, Op-Ed article or letter to the editor. We also suggest that they can illustrate an Opinion piece or letter to the editor that does not have an illustration associated with it.

Recently, Clara Lieu, a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design, told us how she uses that very idea to help her student-artists to create their own pieces. To see some of their work, check out “ Finding Artistic Inspiration in The New York Times’s Opinion Section .”

If your students would like to go further and create their own editorial cartoons, we offer an annual student contest . Invite your students to check out the work of this year’s winners for inspiration. We also have a lesson plan, Drawing for Change: Analyzing and Making Political Cartoons , to go with it.

Another way to use visual journalism to teach argument-making? Use Op-Docs , The Times’s short documentary series (most under 15 minutes), that touches on issues like race and gender identity, technology and society, civil rights, criminal justice, ethics, and artistic and scientific exploration — issues that both matter to teenagers and complement classroom content.

Every Friday during the school year, we host a Film Club in which we select short Op-Docs we think will inspire powerful conversations — and then invite teenagers and teachers from around the world to have those conversations here, on our site.

And for a great classroom example of how this might work in practice, check out Using an Op-Doc Video to Teach Argumentative Writing , a Reader Idea from Allison Marchetti, an English teacher at Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond, Va. She details how her students analyzed the seven-minute film “China’s Web Junkies” to see how the filmmakers used evidence to support an argument, including expert testimony, facts, interview, imagery, statistics and anecdotes.

Ideas for Writing Opinion Pieces

7. Use our student writing prompts to practice making arguments for a real audience.

Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?

Is It O.K. for Men and Boys to Comment on Women and Girls on the Street?

Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?

Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes?

When Do You Become an Adult?

Is America Headed in the Right Direction?

Every day during the school year we invite teenagers to share their opinions about questions like these, and hundreds do, posting arguments, reflections and anecdotes to our Student Opinion feature. We have also curated a list drawn from this feature of 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing on an array of topics like technology, politics, sports, education, health, parenting, science and pop culture.

Teachers tell us they use our writing prompts because they offer an opportunity for students to write for an “authentic audience.” But we also consider our daily questions to be a chance for the kind of “low-stakes” writing that can help students practice thinking through thorny questions informally.

We also call out our favorite comments weekly via our Current Events Conversation feature. Will your students’ posts be next?

8. Participate in our annual Student Editorial Contest.

What issues matter most to your students?

Every year, we invite teenagers to channel their passions into formal pieces : short, evidence-based persuasive essays like the editorials The New York Times publishes every day.

The challenge is pretty straightforward. Choose a topic you care about, gather evidence from sources both within and outside of The New York Times, and write a concise editorial (450 words or less) to convince readers of your point of view.

Our judges use this rubric (PDF) for selecting winners to publish on The Learning Network.

And at a time when breaking out of one’s “filter bubble” is more important than ever, we hope this contest also encourages students to broaden their news diets by using multiple sources, ideally ones that offer a range of perspectives on their chosen issue.

This school year, as you can see from our 2019-20 Student Contest Calendar , the challenge will run from Feb. 13 to March 31, 2020. You can find the submission form and all the details here .

To help guide this contest, we have published two additional ideas from teachers:

• In “ A New Research and Argument-Writing Approach Helps Students Break Out of the Echo Chamber, ” Jacqueline Hesse and Christine McCartney describe methods for helping students examine multiple viewpoints and make thoughtful, nuanced claims about a range of hot-button issues.

• In “ Helping Students Discover and Write About the Issues that Matter to Them ,” Beth Pandolpho describes how she takes her students through the process of finding a topic for our annual Student Editorial Contest, then writing, revising and submitting their final drafts.

9. Take advice from writers and editors at the Times’s Opinion section.

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How can you write a powerful Op-Ed or editorial?

Well, over the years, many Times editors and writers have given the aspiring opiners advice. In the video above, for instance, Andrew Rosenthal, in his previous role as Editorial Page editor, detailed seven pointers for the students who participate in our annual Editorial Contest.

In 2017 Times Op-Ed columnist Bret Stephens wrote his own Tips for Aspiring Op-Ed Writers .

And on our 2017 webinar , Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof suggested his own ten ideas. (Scroll down to see what they are, as well as to find related Op-Ed columns.)

Finally, if you’d like to get a letter to the editor published, here is what Tom Feyer, the longtime head of that section, recommends. Until Feb. 16, 2020, that section is offering a special letter-writing challenge for high school students . Submit a letter to the editor in response to a recent news article, editorial, column or Op-Ed essay, and they will pick a selection of the best entries and publish them.

10. Use the published work of young people as mentor texts.

In 2017, five students of Kabby Hong, the teacher who joined us for our Oct. 10 webinar, were either winners, runners-up or honorable mentions in our Student Editorial Contest.

How did he do it? First, he helps his students brainstorm by asking them the questions on this sheet . (The first page shows his own sample answers since he models them for his students.)

Then, he uses the work of previous student winners alongside famous pieces like “ Letter from Birmingham Jail ” to show his class what effective persuasive writing looks like. Here is a PDF of the handout Mr. Hong gave out last year, which he calls “Layering in Brushstrokes,” and which analyzes aspects of each of these winning essays:

•“ In Three and a Half Hours, an Alarm Will Go Off ”

•“ Redefining Ladylike ”

•“ Why I, a Heterosexual Teenage Boy, Want to See More Men in Speedos ”

Another great source of published opinion writing by young people? The Times series “ On Campus .” Though it is now discontinued, you can stil read essays by college students on everything from “ The Looming Uncertainty for Dreamers Like Me ” to “ Dropping Out of College Into Life .”

Update: Links from Our 2017 Webinar

On our 2017 webinar (still available on-demand), Nicholas Kristof talked teachers through ten ways anyone can make their persuasive writing stronger. Here is a list of his tips, along with the columns that relate to each — though you’ll need to watch the full webinar to hear the stories and examples that illustrate them.

Nicholas Kristof’s Ten Tips for Writing Op-Eds

1. Start out with a very clear idea in your own mind about the point you want to make.

Related: Preventing Mass Shootings Like the Vegas Strip Attack

2. Don’t choose a topic, choose an argument.

Related: On Death Row, but Is He Innocent?

3. Start with a bang.

Related: If Americans Love Moms, Why Do We Let Them Die?

4. Personal stories are often very powerful to make a point.

Related: This is What a Refugee Looks Like

5. If the platform allows it, use photos or video or music or whatever.

Related: The Photos the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Don’t Want You to See

6. Don’t feel the need to be formal and stodgy.

Related: Meet the World’s Leaders, in Hypocrisy

7. Acknowledge shortcomings in your arguments if the readers are likely to be aware of them, and address them openly.

Related: A Solution When a Nation’s Schools Fail

8. It’s often useful to cite an example of what you’re criticizing, or quote from an antagonist, because it clarifies what you’re against.

Related: Anne Frank Today Is a Syrian Girl

9. If you’re really trying to persuade people who are on the fence, remember that their way of thinking may not be yours.

Related: We Don’t Deny Harvey, So Why Deny Climate Change?

10. When your work is published, spread the word through social media or emails or any other avenue you can think of.

Related: You can find Nicholas Kristof on Twitter , Facebook , Instagram , his Times blog , and via his free newsletter .

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  • Knowledge Base
  • How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips

How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/argumentative-essay/

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Argumentative essay (30 minutes)

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Sample Lesson Plan for Argumentative Writing

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This lesson plan for Grade 10 English was presented during a final demonstration for a DepEd Teaching Application.

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Scientific argumentation is increasingly seen as a key inquiry practice for students in science classrooms. This is a complex practice that entails three overlapping, instructional goals: Participants articulate their understandings and work to persuade others of those understandings in order to make sense of the phenomenon under study (L. K. Berland & B. J. Reiser, 2009). This study examines the argumentative discussions that emerged in two middle school science classrooms to explore variation in how the goals of sensemaking and persuasion were taken up. Our analyses reveals that each classroom engaged with these two goals but that they did so quite differently. These differences suggest that the students in each class had overlapping but different interpretations of argumentation. In addition, comparing across the class’ arguments suggests these two goals of scientific argumentation may be in tension with one another.

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It is generally acknowledged that counterargumentation is a key factor contributing to the persuasiveness of argumentative essays; however, recent research has revealed that students tend to neglect alternative viewpoints when responding to argumentative writing prompts. This study used a pretest-posttest design on experimental and control groups with 125 participants at a Chinese university. The control group received instruction in argumentative writing (which typically ignores counterargumentation in mainland China), while the experimental group received instruction in argumentation which included counterarguing and refuting. The results of the study demonstrate the efficacy of explicit classroom instruction in counterargumentation. Text analysis on posttest scripts showed that the inclusion of counterarguments and rebuttals was significantly positively correlated with the overall score of an argumentative essay using the evaluative rubric of a high-stakes test. These findings may have important implications for writing prompts and rubrics as well as argumentative writing pedagogy in China and beyond. It is proposed that counterargumentation be considered in the writing prompts and rubrics of high-stakes English tests, and included in classroom instruction on argumentative writing.

In the present case study, 125 high school students in Hong Kong wrote argumentative essays following a modified Toulmin model that included claims, counterargument claims and rebuttals. From these, 6 exemplary essays in terms of their surface structure by the standards of the modified Toulmin model were selected and analyzed for their perceived quality of reasoning. This evaluation of quality was arrived at via questionnaire responses from 46 doctoral students who rated the 20 most common reasons advanced in the 125 essays. Findings revealed several patterns of inadequacies in the reasoning of the 6 cases, exposing the need to bring greater attention to the quality of reasoning in students’ persuasive writing. An integrated assessment framework and analytic scoring rubric for argumentative writing are thus developed and recommended as a general guide for classroom use, taking into account both argumentative structure and substance.

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Reading Research Quarterly

Richard Beach

Acquiring argumentative reading and writing practices reflects a key component of recent curricular reforms in schools and universities throughout the United States and the world as well as a major challenge to teachers of reading and writing in K-12 and college writing classrooms. In this review, we consider the contributions of two research perspectives, cognitive and social, that researchers have employed in the study of the teaching and learning of argumentative reading and writing. We address two basic questions: How do these perspectives with their own disciplinary frameworks and logics of inquiry interactively inform how researchers study argumentative reading and writing, and consequently, how have these orientations informed pedagogical knowledge that may support teachers' understanding of what argumentation is and how it may be taken up in the educational contexts? We analyze relevant conceptual and empirical studies by considering assumptions underlying the cognitive ...

George Newell , Jen VanDerHeide

Abstract: Acquiring argumentative reading and writing practices reflects a key component of recent curricular reforms in schools and universities throughout the United States and the world as well as a major challenge to teachers of reading and writing in K-12 and college ...

Shelbie Witte

This study examined how students’ science-specific argumentative writing skills and understanding of core ideas changed over the course of a school year as they participated in a series of science laboratories designed using the Argument-Driven Inquiry (ADI) instructional model. The ADI model is a student-centered and writing-intensive approach to laboratory instruction. The study was conducted in two middle school and two high school courses offered at a university-affiliated laboratory school located in the southeast USA. The intervention took place over two semesters and consisted of at least eight laboratory activities in each course.

Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities

Gene Navera

"The paper demonstrates how the notion of ‘performance as kinesis’ or ‘activist performance’ (Navera 2007) can be applied to the teaching of argumentative writing. In order to achieve this, the author first revisits his earlier work based on Dwight Conquergood’s (1991, 1992, 1995, 2002) notion of ‘performance as kinesis’ and how such notion may be used to conceptualize facilitation in the teaching and learning context. In this earlier piece, the author argues that when facilitation is seen as performance as kinesis, the teaching learning situation becomes a site of negotiation, students become responsible co-creators of content and process in the teaching and learning context, and classroom participants exercise self-reflexivity. Following this brief discussion is a sample lesson that aims to demonstrate how the approach is realized in an argumentative writing class. This sample lesson is then subjected to two levels of analysis. The first looks into the significance of the specific activity-based lesson to the teaching of argument while the second points out how the overall framework of organizing the writing lesson enacts the notion of performance as kinesis. In both levels, teachers and students engage in a dialectics of action and reflection (Freire 1972, 1997) that can potentially bring about a change in their ways of thinking and acting. I conclude that the teaching of argumentation becomes transformative when the notion of performance as kinesis is materialized in the teaching-learning context. This is significant to 21st century pedagogy as it encourages the development of critical citizenship crucial to a fast-changing world."

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Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing

argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

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Persuasive writing is an important skill that can seem intimidating to elementary students. This lesson encourages students to use skills and knowledge they may not realize they already have. A classroom game introduces students to the basic concepts of lobbying for something that is important to them (or that they want) and making persuasive arguments. Students then choose their own persuasive piece to analyze and learn some of the definitions associated with persuasive writing. Once students become aware of the techniques used in oral arguments, they then apply them to independent persuasive writing activities and analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques.

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From theory to practice.

  • Students can discover for themselves how much they already know about constructing persuasive arguments by participating in an exercise that is not intimidating.  
  • Progressing from spoken to written arguments will help students become better readers of persuasive texts.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access  
  • PowerPoint  
  • LCD projector (optional)  
  • Chart paper or chalkboard  
  • Sticky notes  
  • Persuasive Strategy Presentation
  • Persuasion Is All Around You  
  • Persuasive Strategy Definitions  
  • Check the Strategies  
  • Check the Strategy  
  • Observations and Notes  
  • Persuasive Writing Assessment

Preparation

Student objectives.

Students will

  • Work in cooperative groups to brainstorm ideas and organize them into a cohesive argument to be presented to the class  
  • Gain knowledge of the different strategies that are used in effective persuasive writing  
  • Use a graphic organizer to help them begin organizing their ideas into written form  
  • Apply what they have learned to write a persuasive piece that expresses their stance and reasoning in a clear, logical sequence  
  • Develop oral presentation skills by presenting their persuasive writing pieces to the class  
  • Analyze the work of others to see if it contains effective persuasive techniques

Session 1: The Game of Persuasion

Home/School Connection: Distribute Persuasion Is All Around You . Students are to find an example of a persuasive piece from the newspaper, television, radio, magazine, or billboards around town and be ready to report back to class during Session 2. Provide a selection of magazines or newspapers with advertisements for students who may not have materials at home. For English-language learners (ELLs), it may be helpful to show examples of advertisements and articles in newspapers and magazines.

Session 2: Analysis of an Argument

Home/School Connection: Ask students to revisit their persuasive piece from Persuasion Is All Around You . This time they will use Check the Strategies to look for the persuasive strategies that the creator of the piece incorporated. Check for understanding with your ELLs and any special needs students. It may be helpful for them to talk through their persuasive piece with you or a peer before taking it home for homework. Arrange a time for any student who may not have the opportunity to complete assignments outside of school to work with you, a volunteer, or another adult at school on the assignment.

Session 3: Persuasive Writing

Session 4: presenting the persuasive writing.

  • Endangered Species: Persuasive Writing offers a way to integrate science with persuasive writing. Have students pretend that they are reporters and have to convince people to think the way they do. Have them pick issues related to endangered species, use the Persuasion Map as a prewriting exercise, and write essays trying to convince others of their points of view. In addition, the lesson “Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues” can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise.  
  • Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Compare your Observations and Notes from Session 4 and Session 1 to see if students understand the persuasive strategies, use any new persuasive strategies, seem to be overusing a strategy, or need more practice refining the use of a strategy. Offer them guidance and practice as needed.  
  • Collect both homework assignments and the Check the Strategy sheets and assess how well students understand the different elements of persuasive writing and how they are applied.  
  • Collect students’ Persuasion Maps and use them and your discussions during conferences to see how well students understand how to use the persuasive strategies and are able to plan their essays. You want to look also at how well they are able to make changes from the map to their finished essays.  
  • Use the Persuasive Writing Assessment to evaluate the essays students wrote during Session 3.
  • Calendar Activities
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  • Student Interactives

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.

This interactive tool allows students to create Venn diagrams that contain two or three overlapping circles, enabling them to organize their information logically.

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Writing An Argumentative Essay: Planning The Essay

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  • Grade 7 ELA Module 2A, Unit 1, Lesson 16

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  1. Lesson Plan on Argumentative Essay

    argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

  2. Expository essay: Argumentative essay lesson plan

    argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

  3. Argumentative Essay Examples

    argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

  4. Detailed Lesson PLAN in Argumentative Writing Techniques 1

    argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

  5. Argumentative Essay Complete Common Core Lesson Plan

    argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

  6. Argumentative lesson plans

    argumentative essay detailed lesson plan

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  1. Argumentative Essay Topic Selection

  2. Livestream: Composing an Argumentative Essay

  3. Argumentative Essay Research, Fall 2023

  4. Argumentative Essay, Select, Proof, and State Your Topic, Fall 2023

  5. What is an Argumentative Essay?

  6. Argumentative Writing Part 1

COMMENTS

  1. Lesson Plan on Argumentative Essay

    Notes 1 - Summary Income Taxation GOOD Citizenship Values (CWTS) Katangian NG Pananaliksik Detailed Lesson Plan in English for Grade 10 Students Identifying the Parts and Features of an Argumentative Essay Time Frame: 1 hour Prepared by: Madeleine B. Marcial At the end of the lesson, the students must be able to:

  2. A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Argumentative Writing

    If you're a writing teacher in grades 7-12 and you'd like a classroom-ready unit like the one described above, including mini-lessons, sample essays, and a library of high-interest online articles to use for gathering evidence, take a look at my Argumentative Writing unit. Just click on the image below and you'll be taken to a page where you can read more and see a detailed preview of ...

  3. Argument Writing: Claim, Reasons & Evidence

    W.5.1 Learning Objectives Students will be able to identify the three main parts of a written argument. Students will be able to outline an argument essay by stating a claim, listing reasons, and providing evidence. Introduction (10 minutes)

  4. 10 Ways to Teach Argument-Writing With The New York Times

    4. Identify claims and evidence. Related Article Tim Lahan. The Common Core Standards put argument front and center in American education, and even young readers are now expected to be able to ...

  5. Argumentative Essay Lesson Plan

    Argumentative Essay Lesson Plan Instructor Daniel Burdo Cite this lesson Argumentative essays are those persuading the reader to a defined perspective on a topic using specially chosen...

  6. ELA G9: Argument Writing

    Description. In this unit, students are introduced to the skills, practices, and routines of argument writing by working collaboratively with their peers to examine argument models, plan for their writing, and gather evidence. Students independently practice writing and revising and also engage in peer review to revise their work.

  7. Lesson Plans

    Students' age range: 16-18 Topic: Is cheating getting better or worse in schools? Description: To begin the lesson the teacher will present the topic to students and briefly discuss the lesson's objectives. Teacher will use the compass point strategy as a prompt to get students to start thinking and recording their thoughts on cheating in schools.

  8. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

  9. Argumentative essay

    Thank you for providing the practice tests with samples of the essays. They really helped me with the structure of my essays and created an idea of what graders expect from me, but the source based essays were witten differently than the ETS samples, as personal opinions are mentioned in the essays. Aren't we supposed to write arguments from ...

  10. Sample Lesson Plan for Argumentative Writing

    This is a complex practice that entails three overlapping, instructional goals: Participants articulate their understandings and work to persuade others of those understandings in order to make sense of the phenomenon under study (L. K. Berland & B. J. Reiser, 2009).

  11. PDF LESSON PLAN: REVIEWING THE ARGUMENT ESSAY

    LESSON PLAN: REVIEWING THE ARGUMENT ESSAY Objective for the Week For an AP® English Language essay, students will review and score student sam-ples, dissect a new prompt, outline an argument essay, provide peer feedback over evidence, and write and revise an argument essay.

  12. Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing

    In addition, the lesson "Persuasive Essay: Environmental Issues" can be adapted for your students as part of this exercise. Have students write persuasive arguments for a special class event, such as an educational field trip or an in-class educational movie. Reward the class by arranging for the class event suggested in one of the essays.

  13. The Power of an Argument

    #1 Having an argument vs. making an argument Students will be able to articulate the difference between making an argument and having an argument in order to prepare for writing an argumentative essay. #2 Reasons and support Students will identify areas of improvement in their own school in order to make an argument for change.

  14. Lesson 18: Plan an argumentative essay

    Briefly explain how this lesson prepares students for another lesson and/or the end-of-unit assessments. Throughout the lesson, compare students' responses and work to the student look-fors. Determine the students who need additional support with reading, understanding, or expressing their understanding of complex, grade-level texts.

  15. Argumentative Essay Lesson Plan for High School

    Argumentative Essay Lesson Plan for High School. Instructor Angela Janovsky. Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's ...

  16. ELA G7: Writing An Argumentative Essay: Planning The Essay

    In this lesson, students start a Writing Improvement Tracker that they will return to after writing the essay in each module for the rest of the year. The purpose of this is to develop students' awareness of their strengths and challenges, as well as ask students to strategize to address their challenges. Self-assessment and goal setting ...

  17. Argumentative Essay Lesson Plan Teaching Resources

    Browse argumentative essay lesson plan resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, a marketplace trusted by millions of teachers for original educational resources. ... there is a complete 20-lesson unit that guides teachers and students through the entire process with detailed lesson plans, interactive notebook activities, graphic organizers, and so ...

  18. Detailed-Lesson-Plan-in-English-Grade-10-Argumentative-Essay.docx

    Detailed Lesson Plan in English Grade 10 Quarter 3 Week 1 I. EN10WC-IIh-13: Learning Competency: Compose an Argumentative Essay Objectives By the end of this lesson, the students should have: 1. Defined argumentative essay; 2. Identified the parts and features of an argumentative essay; 3. Wrote a four-five paragraph argumentative essay about a particular topic/ issue; and 4.