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Writing an Argumentative Paper

After reading Side-Yard Superhero I had big plans to have my students write an argumentative paper on big city living or small town charm. I wanted them to make a choice and defend it.  As that time approached, I knew that it wasn’t a realistic assignment.  Most of my students, like most people in this small town, won’t ever leave this town.

So then I thought back to last year and the research project my students did on resilience. You can read about it by clicking the link.  Each student chose their own topic (a disease or illness that they had an interest in) and the final presentations were some of the most genuine and touching I’ve seen.

It only made sense to let them pick their topic this year too.  I did provide a list of questions that I found somewhere online (credit to whoever made this list).  I modified it somewhat and created the three handouts below.

Argument Paper Part 1 – Pre-writing, list of prompts, a prior knowledge sheet, and an opinion sheet for 6 other people – peers, parents, teachers. This was one of my favorite parts  – the students’ response to what people wrote on their paper. I appreciated the cooperation of my co-workers who took it seriously and gave my kids some extra attention.

Students were encouraged to ask others their opinion about their topic. This provided somewhere to start for those who were really struggling. It also made them rethink their own opinions.

Students were encouraged to ask others their opinion about their topic. This provided somewhere to start for those who were really struggling. It also made them rethink their own opinions.

Argument Paper Part 2– This is a 5 page graphic organizer for the intro, body, and conclusion of the paper.  We used the ACE model to write our body paragraphs. If you aren’t familiar with ACE, head on over to I’m Lovin’ Lit and read this blog post.   This is a strategy I found this summer and now all the 6th and 7th graders in our building are using it.

This was challenging for my students, but made them consider all the options. They enjoyed "debating" with each other about the topics.

This was challenging for my students, but made them consider all the options. They enjoyed “debating” with each other about the topics.

Checkpoints Argumentative Paper – I used this checkpoints paper as a way to guide my students through the beginning steps of the process.

Some of the topics my students picked:

  • Later start time for school
  • Being able to work at age 14
  • Dropping out of high school (She has since decided that is a BAD idea!)
  • Eating snacks in class (I’m a fan of that!)
  • Pitbulls as pets
  • Separate classes for boys and girls
  • Exotic animals as pets
  • Seat belt laws

I will admit that Christmas Break, followed by 3 snow days and an in-service day,  cut this project a little short.  We are going to have to go back and work on citing text some more, and we also need to spend some time on the concluding paragraph.  This writing assignment lends itself to a presentation and can cover a lot of standards. We’ll revisit it later next month.

But right now, we are reading The Giver, with a very heavy focus on close-reading, citing text evidence, and improving reading comprehension. Besides the fact I love the book and loved the movie, I am excited to get further into the book with my 8th graders!  But that’s another post for another time!

 

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