Argument writing is one of three types of writing stressed in the Common Core Standards for English, history, and science/technical studies. As I transition from persuasive to argument writing, my focus is on using technology to engage and support students throughout the process. Tall order. Here are some of the strategies I used to teach argument writing.
What’s the difference between persuasive and argument writing?
Persuasive writing aims to persuade the reader that the stated position is correct. The writer wants to “win over” the reader, often by appealing to emotions. In contrast, argument writing must present a strong claim and support that claim with “sufficient evidence” and relevant “valid reasoning.”
First, select a high interest topic.
I selected the death penalty because Californians will be voting on this issue on the November ballots. It also went nicely with our To Kill a Mockingbird unit as I was able to incorporate informational texts related to this issue.
TED Talks: Get Kids Thinking
I showed Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk titled “We need to talk about an injustice” which explored racial inequality in the justice system as it relates to the death penalty.
Collaborize Classroom: Extend the Discussion Online to Engage All Voices
Using online discussions gives every student time to consider a complex question, articulate a position and learn from their peers’ points of view. This exposure to other students’ ideas is essential to understanding counterarguments.
Face-to-Face Conversations: Exploring Differences
Complementing the online discussions with face-to-face conversations is important to developing real time speaking and listening skills. It can be a challenge for students to listen to an opposing viewpoint without interruption, but it is a crucial skill to cultivate.
Google Docs: Research & Organize Ideas
Teach students to find credible resources and analyze those resources to support their claims.
YouTube: Flip Your Explanation
I recorded a short lecture on how to write a timed argument essay and posted it to YouTube for my students. This gave them time to watch the lecture at their own pace.
This approached made it possible for me to weave together reading, writing and speaking and listening standards into a single writing task.
If you are teaching argument writing and have had success with specific tools or strategies, please share them!