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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). 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 my 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.
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English language classes usually require a lot of writing. When you're a middle school student, you don't feel the pressure. But high school and college students are assigned complex topics. They are rarely free to choose their own idea, so it makes the situation even more complicated. An argumentative essay should be based on three major set of skills of any good student:
- Research skills
- Writing skills
- Analytical skills
If one of these is your weak point, you would probably need online academic writing assistance. Anyway, you should try writing a persuasive paper on one of the chosen topics on your own. This is a good practice for your communication and research skills. Argumentative essays are assigned to train your debating abilities. This assignment has a great influence on how a student will perform or give a public speech later.
HOW TO SELECT DEBATABLE ARGUMENTATIVE TOPICS TO DISCUSS
You might think that it's better when your teacher assigns a particular argumentative topic to you. Having a right to develop your own idea is always better. When working on the persuasive essay, a student has to collect all valuable and time-tested sources to prove his knowledge of the certain issue. You may be encouraged to use such primary sources as:
- Academic journals
- Scientific magazines
- Official reports
Even if you are an expert in a certain field, don't hesitate to use and cite external sources. It will point to your ability to collect and select only the most relevant sources. Besides, direct and indirect quotes are needed to support your knowledge of academic writing style. If you are not sure in your writing skills, turn to professional writing agency to buy a winning argumentative essay on a variety of topics for cheap.
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BEST ARGUMENTATIVE PAPER TOPICS
Easy argumentative essay topics
- Education should be free for everyone
- Why are the US citizens rapidly becoming more obese?
- Internet access must be limited to students
- Young people must have a right to choose when it comes to military
- Each student must have a right to pick only those disciplines he is interested in
- What are the advantages US educational system offers to international students?
- Which secondary languages are worth studying today?
- Is education too commercialised nowadays?
- Is current academic grading helpful in performance?
- Are tests like SAT and ACT effective?
- Advantages and disadvantages of MBA program.
Sports argumentative essay topics
- What can be done to assist teenagers in maintaining a healthy weight?
- Physical education in the school system.
- Does participation in NCAA negatively influence the academic performance?
- What is the top unbreakable record in sport?
- Is Michael Jordan still a basketball star?
Argumentative essay topics for middle school
- What is the real relationship between food, fitness, and weight?
- What are the negative effects of diets?
- Society should fight with anorexia
- To regulate health issues, people should think about their sleep more
- Is golf still demanded?
- Steroid takers must be banned from team sports activities.
- Is swimming really the best type of sport?
- Hockey and other dangerous sports.
Argumentative essay topics for college
- Production and sales of tobacco must be made illegal
- Death sentence should be activated in every country of the world
- Smoking in public places has to be banned
- Alcohol usage should be controlled
- They should not sell alcohol beverages after 11 P.M.
- Energetic drinks should be banned and made illegal
- Should court proceedings be documented for television?
- The most suitable age to have a right to vote.
- When can citizens start drinking and smoking (specific age)?
- On the whole, is there justice for all?
- Was the Industrial Revolution a Europe-wide phenomenon in the nineteenth century?
Classical argument topics
- It should be forbidden to use species of animals for research purposes and cruel experiments
- Should rainforests destructions be punished?
- To what extent are electric vehicles a solution to global pollution?
- Pros and cons of globalisation.
- Was Roosevelt right about building a Panama Canal?
- Are you on the side of King-Kong or militaries who interrupted his world to study it using violent measures?
- The risks the United States may face in terms of rapidly changing climate conditions.
- Earthquakes and their consequences.
- Tsunami: the death wave.
- Beautiful forests of Amazonia.
- Which species should be included in the Red Book (Liber Novus)?
- How can students add up to the social movement for nature's safety?
Controversial argumentative essay topics
- Third World War should be Prevented by Russian and US Governments
- Existing public school policies must be changed
- Is gun control an effective way to control the crime?
- Government should forbid same-sex marriages
- Society is turning over-regulated
- The countries with the highest levels of corruption.
- Are some political authorities engaged in illegal activities in the US?
- Should people with physical disabilities be accepted by the government?
- To be a politician: art or a born talent.
- Can anyone be above the law?
- Pros and cons of Monarchy.
- Is CIS a better alternative for the USSR?
Argumentative essay on technology
- Violent video games should be prohibited
- Does technology make people feel alone?
- YouTube Owners Should Check and Fix Comments That Involve Filthy Language
- Are people becoming technological zombies?
- Will humanity reach the time when there will be no more technological advancement?
- Influences of mobile phones: pros and cons
- Technology and education
Argumentative essay on social media
- Is technology limiting creativity?
- The role of communications in social networks for modern education.
- Are contemporary people too much reliant on technology?
- Are online friends more effective than imaginary?
- Is censorship of Internet necessary?
6th-grade argumentative essay topics
- First aid and medical help, in general, should become free
- People are good at heart (download and use an example now)
- People must spend less time on official work without any effect on their salaries
- Social movements must be financed by governments
- Parents have no right to control the lives of their children above 16
- Cloning must be banned
- Global warming (Just download the sample you need for free!)
- Are abortions legal?
- Cross-cultural marriages add up to racial tolerance
- Is it OK to date a younger male?
- What us incest?
- What should be the role of partners in relationship and family?
- Is online dating safe and productive?
- Will people start marrying their computers soon?
Funny argument topics
- Would Batman be in law in a real world?
- 2D vs. 3D vs. 4D: What's Next?
- Can the chip control the human mind like they do in superhero movies?
- Does Griffins Family correspond to the typical American family?
- Graffiti is an illegal art. How should it be punished?
- Marijuana should be legal.
- Should parents be soft on their children?
Art, Music & Movie Ideas for Papers
- Does art pay?
- Can music and cinematography be called an art too?
- Is gothic art the most preferred and magnificent in history of mankind?
- Can you succeed in life working in the field of art?
- Are today's music tracks educational or meaningful at all?
- Is modern lyrics too explicit for a young audience?
- There is no plot in the majority of up-to-date movies.
- How long should a motion picture last?
DOWNLOAD MORE ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY SAMPLES
VALUABLE TIPS & SIGNS OF THE GREAT TOPIC IDEAS
If you wish everyone to read your piece with the bated breath, try to:
- Pick a topic that everyone is currently discussing. Pay attention to the rumours.
- Select a question an answer to which is still unknown to many people.
- Choose an audience that does not agree with your point.
- Decide on the problem on which everyone has a specific point of view.
- Choose an issue based on your own interests, but don't go too far!
Here we have shared some of the most effective tips:
- No obvious argumentative paper topics!
- Do not stop on those topics that do not arise any arguments. Topics that state scientific facts proved by centuries do not work.
- A debatable essay must focus on the critical issue which leads to the global conflicts.
- Almost every second problem related to politics is a good choice. You may also write something about your school, college or university policies that annoy you or make students argue with their teachers and principals.
- Skip topics that people tend to agree on.
- At the same time, it is better to pass by argumentative essay topics connected with religion, gender, race, and other sensitive episodes of human life. Otherwise, your subjective opinion may be graded subjectively.
- It is better to write your essay following APA style. You may read how to format academic papers in APA here.
Remember: the world is not black-and-white. There are always two sides of the coin. So, even if you're pretty sure in your claim, and the majority of people tend to support it, consider the arguments of the opposing side. Only then your argumentative paper will be graded respectively high.
As you can see, the procedure is everywhere the same. But the idea is to choose the most exciting argumentative paper topics in order to impress both your audience and your teacher. It's like a competition, where the highest grade is your prize. Whenever you need immediate help with your assignment, turn to the professional writing service which can compose an argumentative essay on any topics in several hours.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT STRUCTURE
Just like any other academic paper, argumentative essay requires such steps as:
- In-depth research
- Gathering of information
- Picking the most credible and up-to-date sources
- Writing a draft
- Writing compare and contrast essay itself
- Revising (at least twice)
Speaking about the organisation and structure of the argumentative essay, we offer a five-paragraph paper outline. Let your original ideas flow in this manner:
A conclusion is, no doubt, the most important part of the argumentative essay as you can either support the good impression or destroy it entirely. If you want to avoid typical mistakes, find valuable recommendations in this article.
It all seems easy: just select, draft, write and revise. You may keep your argumentative essays for your future job portfolio in case they are highly graded. We recommend fixing them a bit once your teacher returns the checked version to you. The next time, the process would seem much easier to you.
If you have no desire to waste time on selecting the best topic and writing the whole argumentative essay from scratch, don't forget that you have a loyal team of professionals by your side. We are always ready to help for affordable prices - just contact us in the case of any questions or need for additional information. Expand your horizons by ordering an outstanding argumentative paper from expert US writers!
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