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Literacy Retreat 2012


Adding Argumentative Writing to Your Curriculum


Study persuasive writing techniques through the reading of picture books. Here are Kristina’s favorites.

For additional titles, check out this single blog entry about using picture books to teach persuasive writing.

More than 100,000 people of all ages, including kids, have submitted This I Believe…essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. These make for great opinion–the first step toward persuasion.


Read a previous Learning Center article defining the difference between persuasive and argumentative writing.

Share with your students the one-page comparison guide dissecting the elements of persuasion versus the elements of argument.

Access four writing samples on Animal Testing (PDF/SmartBoard) that demonstrate the progression from opinion writing to persuasive writing to argumentative writing. promotes critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format. Not only does it provide topics with debatable sides but lots of initial data gathering can be done at this site. Students can quickly determine which side is easier to prove.

Build Pro-Con lists using these T-Charts (PDF/SmartBoard).

When brainstorming argumentative topics, have students look through newspaper headlines and articles (News Horizontal/News Vertical). It’s probable that they will find topics to write about. For each of the hot topics within the News Horizontal and News Vertical documents, here are possible prompts to practice persuasive or argumentative writing.

Not only newspapers, but potential topics can rise from television commercials and programming.

Depending on the debatable issues students choose to argue, they can find proof and interpret data using the Hot Topics series on the following topics:

  • Cyber Bullying
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration
  • Internet Safety
  • Legalization of Drugs
  • Plastic Pollution
  • Superbugs
  • Terrorism and Security

To practice finding and interpreting data, utilize the fabulous Whodunit? PowerPoint (PPT template/SmartBoard) which slowly highlights the important clues for solving each case. These examples (and MANY MORE) are found within the Crime & Puzzlement series.

Teach students that their ideas are like destinations on a road map. Their job is to get the reader from Point A to Point B using road signs. The transition road signs alert the reader of the kind of information to expect next. Provide readers a smoother transition so they experience a gentle ride through your ideas.

Utilize this 3-part Persuasive Planner to help students remember the organization of a persuasive writing.

How you share your message is just as important as what your message is. Be aware of the word choice, in particular, the word connotations you are choosing to send the message. The short video at this link demonstrates just that.

Here are Kristina’s favorite professional books with mini-lessons to teach argumentative writing.

  • Oh Yeah?! Putting Argument to Work Both in School and Out, M. Smith, J. Wilhelm, J. Fredricksen
  • Teaching Argument Writing: Grades 6-12, G. Hillocks, Jr.
  • Teaching Students to Write Argument, P. Smagorinsky, L. Johannessen, E. Kahn, and T. McCann

For additional resources online, checkout these web links.