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!

Preorder your copy of Creatively Teach the Common Core Literacy Standards with TechnologyJust in time for summer reading!

11 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these great ways to engage students in argumentative writing as now required by the common core! I am going to share this blog with middle level educators who are struggling with how this will all look in the classroom. Your descriptions and excellent narrative with screen shots is an easy way for teachers to get started.

    • My pleasure, Sandra!

      I hope the work I am doing and sharing will help other teachers transition more smoothly to the Common Core. Thank you for sharing it with the teachers you work with.


  2. You are amazing and I am so happy to have come across your site. I wish I could find a place to work that allowed me to teach as you do. In my area, most schools aren’t as progressive as yours. I just completed my Master’s in Teaching with an Ed Tech specialization and am trying to learn as much as possible about blended teaching environments. Your recorded webinars are a great place to start!

    • Thank you, Jennifer!

      I’m also glad you found my site! My school is not actually that progressive. I am unusual in my approach, but I am sharing my strategies with anyone on my campus who will listen. In fact, I offer free PD in my classroom every Tuesday at lunch to share with my faculty, which has been really fun.

      Take care. Good luck integrating tech into your class!


  3. Thank you for sharing so generously. Our English Dept. has just started to gear up for the move from persuasive writing to argument. Your suggestions and video – helpful.

    • That is great to hear, Sally!

      Good luck to your English dept during this transition. I’m thrilled I could help.


  4. I really like the idea of online discusssions with students, but I have never tried it. Is there a specific site or easy/cheap way to set this up that you would recommend?


    • Hello Tyler,

      I use which is a dynamic discussion platform. I’ve been using it for three years and love it! It was my “gateway” technology. It is free and they have a wide collection of teacher resources, which I designed for the company, available on their website.

      There are a ton of large learning management systems (LMSs) that also have a discussion component. That said, there is a larger learning curve with technology that does more than just discussion. Most tend to be more underdeveloped than Collaborize too.

      Good luck!


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