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

lesson 1 plan for writing an argumentative research paper

Categories: Instruction , Podcast

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


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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:


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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  • 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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lesson 1 plan for writing an argumentative research paper

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.

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!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
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  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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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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Lesson 1: So You Think You Can Argue

Lesson plan.

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Prepare students for persuasive writing by introducing them to the concept of making an argument. Students discover there’s a difference between “arguing” and making an argument in support of a position, and that making an argument is a learned skill that doesn’t depend on how you feel about an issue.

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lesson 1 plan for writing an argumentative research paper

  • So You Think You Can Argue_Lesson Plan (1).pdf
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I find the materials so engaging, relevant, and easy to understand – I now use iCivics as a central resource, and use the textbook as a supplemental tool. The games are invaluable for applying the concepts we learn in class. My seniors LOVE iCivics.

Lynna Landry , AP US History & Government / Economics Teacher and Department Chair, California

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Lesson 2: i can't wear what.

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Lesson 3: Lookin' for Evidence

Lesson 4: no rambling allowed, lesson 5: yeah, but..., lesson 6: the dreaded outline, lesson 7: emphasize, minimize, lesson 8: from outline... to essay, see how it all fits together.

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ENGL 1302 (English Composition II) - Dr. P. Henry

  • Researching & Writing an Argumentative Paper
  • Finding Reliable, Accurate & Trustworthy (RAT) Sources
  • Books & eBooks
  • Databases & Articles
  • Helpful Websites
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  • Citations: Basics
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  • Citations: Unknown Author
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  • Citations: Internet Sources
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  • Works Cited: Internet Sources
  • Works Cited: Interviews
  • Sample Works Cited Page
  • Helpful Videos


Some of these videos are a little cheesy, but they provide helpful tips for writing all sections of an essay.


Body (Supporting) Paragraphs




Rachel Kramer, Research Librarian

Rachel Kramer Research Librarian she/her/hers MCC Learning Commons [email protected] 254-299-8390


Young African American woman with a look of frustration on her face.

Are you struggling to find research materials, use our library databases, or write citations and references? Our research librarians can help! Just need a little help? Visit the Learning Commons' third-floor desk in the Learning Technology Center (LTC), or contact us via live chat  or email . You can also call us at 254-299-8325. Need a lot of help? Schedule a research consultation  with one of our research librarians. It's their job to help you succeed!

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Researching an Argumentative Paper

Research can be difficult, even when you know how to do it. However, if you don't know the steps to follow, research becomes very frustrating. Knowing what to do makes research more manageable. The steps below are focused on writing an argumentative research paper, but you can follow them anytime you need to write any kind of research assignment.

1. Pick a topic that interests you . If you find the topic boring, it will be harder to research and write about. If you must pick from a few options, pick the one that seems most interesting. If you can't decide, or if they all seem boring, move on to Steps 2 & 3 and explore all the topics before deciding. If the topic is chosen for you, move on to Step 2.

2. Examine your knowledge and feelings on the topic.  Write down everything you already know about this topic.  How  do you know these things are true? What do you  not  know? What would you  like  to know, or what do you think it's important  to know? If the topic is controversial, do you already have a preference for one side of the issue? If so, why  do you support that side? Write it all down.

3. Explore your topic informally.  Do an internet search for your topic. Even if you know what position you will take for an argumentative paper, be sure to look for information from the other side's point of view. Try adding the phrase "main issues" to your search.

You can read articles on websites like Wikipedia and procon.org. Those websites will provide background information on the issues and will include reference lists that can point you to more scholarly sources. 

Do not cite Wikipedia or similar websites as sources in your final paper!  

Make notes on what you find: what are the main issues? What are the primary reasons each side gives for their position? What evidence do they provide? Write down the keywords (important terms) associated with this topic.

4. Conduct formal research using the library's resources. Now that you know the basics about your topic, it's time to do formal research. You might already know what side or position you are going to take in an argumentative paper. Or, you might still be undecided.

It's time to hit the library. The other pages on this research guide explain what makes a source reliable, accurate, and trustworthy and shows you how to find such sources using the library's resources.

Use the keywords you found in Step #3 to search for scholarly information on this topic. Look for information on both sides of the issue.

Keep track of your research in an organized way: save articles to a folder in your computer or in the cloud, or email them to yourself. Bookmark important websites or email the URLs to yourself.

5. Construct your argumentative thesis.  It's time. If you haven't already picked one side of the issue to support, now is the time. Once you pick a side, you must construct your argumentative thesis. Your thesis is composed of your claim - the debatable statement that people disagree about - and your reasons for believing your claim. A thesis is usually structured like this:

__________  should/should not  __________  because Reason 1, Reason 2, and Reason 3. 

Here's an example:

School districts should move to a four-day school week (debatable claim - not everyone agrees)  because   students will learn more and perform better ( Reason 1 ) , school districts will save money ( Reason 2 ) , and both students and faculty will have more time for extracurricular activities and professional development ( Reason 3 ) .  

Your reasons must be credible and supported by evidence from the sources you found during your formal research.  Three is not a magic number; you can include more or fewer than three reasons (you should have at least two).  However, you should only include the strongest reasons in favor of your argument.

6. Create an outline and then write your paper! Beginning with an outline will make the actual writing much easier. Follow the structure presented in the box below to create an outline for your paper. Once the outline is complete, get writing! Don't forget to cite your sources and create a Works Cited page. The tabs on the left side of the page have great information on citing sources.

Structuring & Writing an Argumentative Paper

Each argumentative paper is unique. However, most argumentative papers follow a similar structure, presented here in outline format. The videos on the left side of the page have tips for writing introductions, transitions, the body of your paper, and conclusions.


Your introduction should be interesting and grab the reader's attention. Watch the videos on the side of the page for tips on writing great hooks and introduction.

You should state your argumentative thesis at the end of your introduction. That is, your thesis should be the last sentence of your introduction. You are introducing your thesis by providing context for your reader to understand it. Remember, an argumentative thesis contains your claim on a position and your reasons for holding that claim.

It is often a good idea to write your introduction LAST, after you write your body and conclusion! 

Why? Introductions are hard to write if you haven't written the body of your paper. But, if you've done the research and created an outline, it should be easy to write the body of your paper. From there, it's easy to write your conclusion. Once those are done, you'll have a better idea of how to put your ideas in the best light in your introduction.


The body of your paper is where you thoroughly explain your reasons, provide evidence for them, and include and refute counterarguments (naysayers). Each reason should be explained and supported in its own paragraph.

A. Reason 1.

1. Evidence I  for Reason 1.

2. Evidence II  for Reason 1. 

3. Counterargument  (naysayer) for Reason 1.

a. Rebuttal to Counterargument for Reason 1.

Smooth transition to Reason 2.

B. Reason 2.

1. Evidence I  for Reason 2.

2. Evidence II  for Reason 2. 

3. Counterargument (naysayer) for Reason 2.

a. Rebuttal to Counterargument for Reason 2.

Smooth transition to Reason 3.

C. Reason 3.

1. Evidence I for Reason 3.

2. Evidence II for Reason 3. 

3. Counterargument (naysayer) for Reason 3.

a. Rebuttal to Counterargument for Reason 3.

There is no magic number for the amount of supporting evidence you provide for each of your reasons. Just remember to use credible evidence from reliable, accurate and trustworthy sources. Use the tabs on the left side of this page to learn what makes a source reliable, accurate and trustworthy, and how to use the MCC library to find these sources. 


Your conclusion should restate your argumentative thesis. It should be  restated  but not copied word-for-word from your introduction. You should not introduce any new information or reasons in your conclusion. However, you can certainly include a call for action. Your conclusion should be in proportion to the length of your paper. Conclusions are usually a little shorter than introductions.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

4-minute read

  • 30th April 2022

An argumentative essay is a structured, compelling piece of writing where an author clearly defines their stance on a specific topic. This is a very popular style of writing assigned to students at schools, colleges, and universities. Learn the steps to researching, structuring, and writing an effective argumentative essay below.

Requirements of an Argumentative Essay

To effectively achieve its purpose, an argumentative essay must contain:

●  A concise thesis statement that introduces readers to the central argument of the essay

●  A clear, logical, argument that engages readers

●  Ample research and evidence that supports your argument

Approaches to Use in Your Argumentative Essay

1.   classical.

●  Clearly present the central argument.

●  Outline your opinion.

●  Provide enough evidence to support your theory.

2.   Toulmin

●  State your claim.

●  Supply the evidence for your stance.

●  Explain how these findings support the argument.

●  Include and discuss any limitations of your belief.

3.   Rogerian

●  Explain the opposing stance of your argument.

●  Discuss the problems with adopting this viewpoint.

●  Offer your position on the matter.

●  Provide reasons for why yours is the more beneficial stance.

●  Include a potential compromise for the topic at hand.

Tips for Writing a Well-Written Argumentative Essay

●  Introduce your topic in a bold, direct, and engaging manner to captivate your readers and encourage them to keep reading.

●  Provide sufficient evidence to justify your argument and convince readers to adopt this point of view.

●  Consider, include, and fairly present all sides of the topic.

●  Structure your argument in a clear, logical manner that helps your readers to understand your thought process.

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●  Discuss any counterarguments that might be posed.

●  Use persuasive writing that’s appropriate for your target audience and motivates them to agree with you.

Steps to Write an Argumentative Essay

Follow these basic steps to write a powerful and meaningful argumentative essay :

Step 1: Choose a topic that you’re passionate about

If you’ve already been given a topic to write about, pick a stance that resonates deeply with you. This will shine through in your writing, make the research process easier, and positively influence the outcome of your argument.

Step 2: Conduct ample research to prove the validity of your argument

To write an emotive argumentative essay , finding enough research to support your theory is a must. You’ll need solid evidence to convince readers to agree with your take on the matter. You’ll also need to logically organize the research so that it naturally convinces readers of your viewpoint and leaves no room for questioning.

Step 3: Follow a simple, easy-to-follow structure and compile your essay

A good structure to ensure a well-written and effective argumentative essay includes:


●  Introduce your topic.

●  Offer background information on the claim.

●  Discuss the evidence you’ll present to support your argument.

●  State your thesis statement, a one-to-two sentence summary of your claim.

●  This is the section where you’ll develop and expand on your argument.

●  It should be split into three or four coherent paragraphs, with each one presenting its own idea.

●  Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that indicates why readers should adopt your belief or stance.

●  Include your research, statistics, citations, and other supporting evidence.

●  Discuss opposing viewpoints and why they’re invalid.

●  This part typically consists of one paragraph.

●  Summarize your research and the findings that were presented.

●  Emphasize your initial thesis statement.

●  Persuade readers to agree with your stance.

We certainly hope that you feel inspired to use these tips when writing your next argumentative essay . And, if you’re currently elbow-deep in writing one, consider submitting a free sample to us once it’s completed. Our expert team of editors can help ensure that it’s concise, error-free, and effective!

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Writing an Argumentative Research Paper

  • Library Resources
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  • What is an Argumentative Research Essay?
  • Choosing a Topic
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement Libguide
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  • Types of Sources
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  • Copyright, Plagiarism, and Fair Use

Evaluating sources video

The C.R.A.A.P Test by Wintec City Library

Ebooks in Galileo

Cover Art

Conducting Research for Argumentative Essays

Conducting research for argumentative essays involves finding credible facts or evidence to backup your stance on the topic you chose. Researching your topic helps you to provide supporting evidence for your thesis. Evidence to support your claim will contain facts, statistics, examples, or expert opinions on the topic. Research both view points on the topic.

When conducting research look for the following sources:

  •  Find books from reliable publishers on your issue.
  •  Find articles in academic journals and well-respected magazines and newspapers on your issue.
  •  Find information from government or educational sites. The site domains end in .gov or .edu.
  •  Find information from reputable sources or people. Examples: specialist in field, scientist, or government documents
  •   Find information from reliable databases such as Galileo where all articles and journal are peer-reviewed.

Evaluating sources

When doing research, it is important to find information that is reliable, accurate, and appropriate for your assignment. Some assignments may require you to use or limit certain sources such as:

  • primary or secondary sources,
  • specific types of periodicals, and/or
  • Internet sources.

In all cases, you should evaluate the information before you use it in your assignments.

How to Evaluate sites

Evaluating sources involves recognizing that not all information you read is valid or credible especially when using online resources. The following links will give you a general breakdown of sources and the process of conducting research

  • Evaluating Internet Information- USG Online Learning Library   A brief introduction about websites  
  • Bare Bones 101: A Basic Tutorial on Searching the Web   Lessons plans discussing how to search the web by the University of South Carolina  
  • Strategies for conducting Research   Information on conducting research by Pressbooks   When looking online for credible websites look for sites ending in .Gov or .Edu, some .Org websites can be credible as well.

evaluate sources

When looking for accurate, reliable, credible sources use the  Acronym CRAAP to help you decide if the information you are given is right for your research: 


Check out the following handouts and links for further assistance:

CRAAP Test Worksheet  

CRAAP handout- Evaluating Resources 

Checklist For evaluating sources 

A teaching resource created by the MLA Style Center. Checklist for determining if sites are reliable.

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Writing curriculum

Argumentative Writing Unit

Writing prompts, lesson plans, webinars, mentor texts and a culminating contest, all to inspire your students to tell us what matters to them.

lesson 1 plan for writing an argumentative research paper

By The Learning Network

Unit Overview

On our site, we’ve been offering teenagers ways to tell the world what they think for over 20 years. Our student writing prompt forums encourage them to weigh in on current events and issues daily, while our contests have offered an annual outlet since 2014 for formalizing those opinions into evidence-based essays.

In this unit, we’re bringing together all the resources we’ve developed along the way to help students figure out what they want to say, and how to say it effectively.

Here is what this unit offers, but we would love to hear from both teachers and students if there is more we could include. Let us know in the comments, or by writing to [email protected].

Start With Our Prompts for Argumentative Writing

How young is too young to use social media? Should students get mental health days off from school? Is $1 billion too much money for any one person to have?

These are the kinds of questions we ask every day on our site. In 2017 we published a list of 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing categorized to provoke thinking on aspects of contemporary life from social media to sports, politics, gender issues and school. In 2021, we followed it up with 300 Questions and Images to Inspire Argument Writing , which catalogs all our argument-focused Student Opinion prompts since then, plus our more accessible Picture Prompts.

Teachers tell us their students love looking at these lists, both to inspire their own writing and to find links to reliable sources about the issues that intrigue them. In fact, every year we get many contest submissions that grow directly out of these questions. Several, like this one , have even gone on to win.

But even if you’re not participating in our contest, you might use these prompts to invite the kind of casual, low-stakes writing that can help your students build skills — in developing their voices, making claims and backing them up with solid reasoning and evidence.

And, if your students respond to our most recent prompts by posting comments on our site, they can also practice making arguments for an authentic audience of fellow students from around the world. Each week we choose our favorites to honor in our Current Events Conversation column .

Find Lesson Plans on Every Aspect of Argument Writing

Over the years, we’ve published quite a few lesson plans to support our annual argument writing contests — so many, in fact, that we finally rounded them all up into one easy list.

In “ 10 Ways to Teach Argument-Writing With The New York Times ,” you’ll find resources for:

Exploring the role of a newspaper opinion section

Understanding the difference between fact and opinion

Analyzing the use of rhetorical strategies like ethos, pathos and logos

Working with claims, evidence and counterarguments

Helping students discover the issues that matter to them

Breaking out of the “echo chamber” when researching hot-button issues

Experimenting with visual argument-making

In 2021, we also developed An Argumentative-Writing Unit for Students Doing Remote Learning that can help teenagers guide their own learning.

Teach and Learn With Mentor Texts

You probably already know that you can find arguments to admire — and “writer’s moves” to emulate — all over the Times Opinion section . But have you thought about using the work of our previous Student Editorial Contest winners as mentor texts too?

Here are ways to use both:

Learn from the Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof’s writing process : One edition of our “Annotated by the Author” Mentor Text series is by Mr. Kristof. See what he has to say about the writing challenges he faced in a recent column and how he did the kinds of things students will have to do, too, from fact-checking to fixing grammar errors to balancing storytelling with making a larger point.

Get to know one writer’s rhetorical style : Many teachers use an “adopt a columnist” method, inviting students to focus on the work of one of the Times Opinion columnists to get to know his or her issues and rhetorical style. In 2019, an English teacher in Connecticut wrote for our site about how he does this exercise, in which his students choose from among columnists at The Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Use the work of teenage winners to help your students identify “writer’s moves” they can borrow: Teachers have told us there is no better way to prepare students to enter our contest than to have them examine the work of previous winners.

On our current site, you can find the essays of the top winners and the runners-up from 2017-202 3. Invite your students to read one and answer the questions we pose in all our Mentor Texts columns : “What do you notice or admire about this piece? What lessons might it have for your writing?” Then, have them borrow one or more of this student’s “writer’s moves” and imitate it in their own work.

We have also published two Learning Network books , one that collects 100 of the best student essays from this contest all in one place, categorized by subjects like “Teenage Life Online,” “Gender and Sexuality” and “Sports and Gaming,” and the other a related teacher’s guide to using them in the classroom.

Here is a roundup of ideas from 17 teachers and students for ways to use these “authentic, powerful and unafraid” student essays in several classroom contexts.

Finally, two new entries in our Annotated by the Author series feature student editorial contest winners from 2020 discussing their work and sharing tips: Ananya Udaygiri on “How Animal Crossing Will Save the World” and Abel John on “Collar the Cat!”

Get Practical Tips From Our Related Videos and Webinars

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The video above, “ How to Write an Editorial ,” is only three minutes long, but in it Andy Rosenthal, the former editor of the Times Opinion page, gives students seven great pieces of advice.

Both students and teachers are welcome to watch our popular on-demand 2017 webinar, “ Write to Change the World: Crafting Persuasive Pieces With Help From Nicholas Kristof and the Times Op-Ed Page ,” which includes a wealth of practical tips from Mr. Kristof, as well as from Kabby Hong, a Wisconsin English teacher who works with this contest annually, and his student, Daina Kalnina, whose 2017 essay was one of our top winners that year.

Finally, you can watch our 2021 on-demand webinar, Teaching Argumentative Writing , that focuses on two key steps in the process: finding your argument, and using evidence to support it. You will also get broad overview of how to use our writing prompts and the work of our student winners to help your own students find topics they care about, and craft solid arguments around them. You can also watch an edited version of this webinar below.

Enter Our New Student Open Letter Contest: March 13-April 17, 2024

The culmination of this unit? Our new Open Letter Contest.

An open letter is a published letter of protest or appeal usually addressed to an individual but intended for the general public. Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail , the recent letter signed by over 1,000 tech leaders about the dangers of A.I. and this funny 2020 letter addressed to Harry and Meghan are all examples of this rich tradition.

Just as we did for our long-running Editorial Contest, we invite students to make an argument in 450 words about something that matters to them, and persuade us that we should care, too. But this time, students must address themselves to a specific target audience or recipient, institution or group — one that has the power to make meaningful change.

Whether students choose their parents, teachers, school board members or mayor; a member of Congress; the head of a corporation; or a metonym like “Silicon Valley” or “The Kremlin,” they should ask themselves, What do I care about? Who can make changes, big or small, local or global, to address my issue or problem? What specifically do I want them to understand and do? And how can I write this as an “open letter,” meaningful not just to me and the recipient, but to a general audience?

More information will be published soon. Until then, you can find ideas and inspiration in our related writing unit and via the work of past Editorial winners .

As always, all student work will be read by our staff, volunteers from the Times Opinion section, and/or by educators from around the country. Winners will have their work published on our site and, perhaps, in the print New York Times.

Popular Searches

Project topeka resources.

  • Lessons from Project Topeka: Research and Perspectives
  • Reading Closely to Make Arguments
  • Introducing Highlighting and Annotating
  • Introducing Organization
  • Evaluating Evidence

Introduction to Argumentative Writing

  • Claim and Focus
  • Support and Evidence
  • Organization
  • Language and Style
  • Student Resources
  • Teacher Resources
  • Browse Prompts
  • What’s the best way for students to create change?
  • How should we change the court system to make it equitable?
  • How should we protect communities facing unequal impacts of rising sea levels?
  • Is Graffiti Art?
  • Cell Phone Use
  • Screen Time Limits?

Day 1: Vocabulary for Writing Assignments

In this lesson, students and teachers uncover the basic process and vocabulary for making an argument supported by evidence.

  • Lesson Plan: Option A
  • Lesson Plan: Option B
  • Class Presentation: Option A
  • Class Presentation: Option B
  • Entry Ticket Handout A
  • Entry Ticket Handout B
  • Activity: Write About an Image

Day 2: Claim and Focus

In this lesson, students and teachers look closely at the attributes that make a claim strong and set the focus for the rest of an argument.

  • Lesson Plan
  • Class Presentation
  • Entry Ticket Handout
  • Model Prompt Analysis
  • Activity: Addressing the Prompt

Day 3: Support and Evidence

In this lesson, students will examine how reasons, evidence, and reasoning work together to support a claim. Students will begin the session by identifying reasons that maintain focus on given claims. Later students and teacher will discuss good and bad evidence and will practice selecting evidence and explaining reasoning to support claims, both in groups and individually. The lesson will end with a full-group debate activity.

  • Activity: Developing Support
  • Four Corners Debate Handout

Day 4: Organization

In this lesson, students will examine the organization of an essay to make an effective argument. Teacher and students will examine and practice both essay-level and paragraph-level organization.

  • Activity: Argument Sort

Day 5: Language and Style

In this lesson, students will examine the effect of audience on writing style, and will discover the differences between formal and informal writing.

  • Activity: Formal and Informal

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Writing an Argumentative Research Paper Lesson Plan 10

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Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing

lesson 1 plan for writing an argumentative research paper

  • Resources & Preparation
  • Instructional Plan
  • Related Resources

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


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
  • Strategy Guides
  • Lesson Plans
  • 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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  1. English 3 Unit 8 Flashcards

    50%. (L1) Put the five steps to writing an argumentative research paper in order. Put the five steps to writing an argumentative research paper in order. 1: Make a Research Plan. 2: Write an Outline, Draft, and Works-Cited Page. 3: Evaluate Draft for Clarity and Purpose; Revise.

  2. Structure & Outline

    When writing an argumentative research essay, create an outline to structure the research you find as well as help with the writing process. The outline of an argumentative essay should include an introduction with thesis statement, 3 main body paragraphs with supporting evidence and opposing viewpoints with evidence to disprove, along with an ...

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    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.

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    A 1 essay demonstrates fundamental deficiencies in writing skills. ... Plan ahead. Once you've decided on a thesis, take a minute to choose 3-4 examples that directly support your argument. If you start writing before outlining your support, the resulting essay may be confusing or disorganized.

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    Lesson Plan. Prepare students for persuasive writing by introducing them to the concept of making an argument. Students discover there's a difference between "arguing" and making an argument in support of a position, and that making an argument is a learned skill that doesn't depend on how you feel about an issue.

  8. Researching & Writing an Argumentative Paper

    The steps below are focused on writing an argumentative research paper, but you can follow them anytime you need to write any kind of research assignment. 1. Pick a topic that interests you. If you find the topic boring, it will be harder to research and write about. If you must pick from a few options, pick the one that seems most interesting.

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    Writing an Argumentative Research Paper. This guide will provide an overview of what an argumentative essay is, how to write them, examples, and provide a list of suggested databases in order to begin your research ... The Academic Essay DG : How to Plan, Draft, Write and Revise by Dr Derek Soles Dr Graham Lawler. ISBN: 9781842855478 ...

  11. Writing an Argumentative Research Paper Lesson Plan 10

    Section 1. Student Learning Objectives. As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, you will be able to: 1. Employ a variety of approaches to analyze and interpret texts. (PLG 1) (Gen Ed Goal 1 a) 2. Respond to texts, in discussion and writing assignments, demonstrating an understanding of rhetorical strategies employed in the texts.

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  14. Introduction to Argumentative Writing

    Introduction to Argumentative Writing. Day 1: Vocabulary for Writing Assignments. In this lesson, students and teachers uncover the basic process and vocabulary for making an argument supported by evidence. Materials. Lesson Plan: Option A. Lesson Plan: Option B. Class Presentation: Option A. Class Presentation: Option B.

  15. English III Unit 8 Flashcards

    Lesson 1 - Plan for Writing an Argumentative Research Paper ... Put the five steps to writing an argumentative research paper in order. 1.) Make a Research Plan 2.) Write an Outline, Draft, and Works-cited Page 3.) Evaluate Draft for Clarity, and Purpose; Revise 4.) Proofread and Edit 5.) Publish

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  17. PDF Lesson Plan 1: Research paper Writing: An Overview

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  18. English 3 Unit 8 Quiz 1 Flashcards

    Check all the characteristics of a good argumentative research paper., Select opinion, theory, or evidence for the statement. ... Select the five major steps to writing a research paper according to the outline in Lesson 1. - Proofread and Edit. - Make a Research Plan. - Write an Outline, Draft, and Works Cited page.

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    Argumentative Essay Writing. 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 ...

  21. English IV, Unit 7 Flashcards

    1) The purpose of an argumentative research paper is to _____ readers of the conclusion or thesis. persuade. 2) Writers must know the _____ so they can know what to write about and how to present it. audience. 3) The two factors most important to know when determining what vocabulary and reading level to use when writing are the audience's age ...

  22. Writing an Argumentative Research Paper Lesson Plan 10

    Student Learning Objectives As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, you will be able to: 1. Employ a variety of approaches to analyze and interpret texts. (PLG 1) (Gen Ed Goal 1 a)2. Respond to texts, in discussion and writing assignments, demonstrating an understanding of rhetorical strategies employed in the texts. (PLG 2) (Gen Ed Goal 1a, b; 6 a, b)3. Incorporate the ...

  23. 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.