Middle School
Cross-Curricular

No Ifs Ands or Buts: Writing the Argument Essay

Lawyers use argument to persuade the jury. Salespeople use argument to sell. Parents use argument to teach life lessons. Kids use argument to convince their parents to buy them that new cell phone. Any claim supported by at least one reason is an argument. But a strong argument is supported by strong reasons that include strong evidence. And, a strong argument counters the counterarguments by rooting out weaknesses and fallacies in the reasons.
A Collection By Ula Manzo
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No Ifs Ands or Buts: Writing the Argument Essay
  • Ula Manzo says:
    This page has links to all sorts of lessons on argument writing. “Are You My Mother?” was written for 2nd grade, but is rich enough to be used at any grade level. Need examples of issues with lots of pro and con reasons? There’s a link for that. There’s also a link to “The Classical Argument” that has great advice for writing each section. The very first link is a list of 200 topics for argument essays that was published by the New York Times for an essay writing contest.
  • Ula Manzo says:
    One section of an argument essay is acknowledging a counter argument and then refuting it. Reasoning fallacies are great tools for refuting opposing reasons, if you know what they are and get in the habit of looking for them. This video explains several common fallacies, along with examples of how they are often used in the comment sections of websites such as YouTube.
  • justaskpublications.com
    justaskpublications.com

    Teaching Argument Writing: An Inquiry Process

    Article
    Ula Manzo says:
    This is a thorough overview of teaching argument writing, including helpful tips and potential problems to be avoided. It includes questions students should ask while collecting information, sentence frames to use for refuting counterarguments, and questions to ask when deciding how to present the evidence.
  • Ula Manzo says:
    “Building an Argument” is a great graphic organizer for illustrating how the parts of the essay fit together. It could be used as a poster or even as a worksheet for a pre-writing activity.
  • Ula Manzo says:
    The stand-out element of this presentation is the way the author color-codes and annotates the conclusion (claim), reasons, and evidence in arguments. This color-coding and annotating technique would be great for students to use when peer-editing each other’s argument essays: they could underline their partner’s conclusion in red, the reasons in green (labeled R1, R2, R3, etc.), and actual evidence in blue.
  • Ula Manzo says:
    The emphasis in the Common Core State Standards on writing argument essays has put this topic on the list of “what’s hot” in education these days. The author of this presentation uses the language of the Common Core to illustrate with numerous examples that an argument is a claim plus one or more reasons and/or sources of evidence.
  • Ula Manzo says:
    This is a perfect introduction to argument essays that will hold even a middle school student’s attention. You might want to follow it up by having students work in pairs or small groups to complete a venn diagram with one circle labeled “everyday meanings of the word argument” and “academic meanings of the word argument”—with particular attention to the section of overlap.
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