Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Writing an Argumentative Paragraph

Argumentative Writing

K20 Center, Paige Holden, Gage Jeter | Published: May 31st, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th, 9th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course American Literature, Composition
  • Time Frame Time Frame 3-5 class period(s)
  • Duration More 200 minutes


Students will read both fiction and nonfiction to analyze arguments. They will practice annotating, writing for a variety of purposes, and working collaboratively with their peers. Students will understand argumentative structure and use that knowledge to construct arguments both as a class, within small groups, and individually. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 8th grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 7 through 9, adjusting standards as needed.

Essential Question(s)

Why is it important to be able to construct an effective argument?



Students read a short story and and a short nonfiction article. Students also consider aspects of argument with which they are already familiar.


Students experiment with organizing arguments in various ways.


The teacher introduces argumentative structure in a presentation.


Students work in groups to practice argumentative writing about a story that the class read and discussed together.


Students read a piece on their own and formulate an argument.


  • Copy of (or device to access) "Watch This. No. Read It!" by Lauren Duzbow (linked in Engage section)

  • Sample Arguments for group activity (see Attachments)

  • Argumentative Writing PowerPoint (see Attachments)

  • Class Notes on writing an argumentative paragraph (see Attachments for guided notes and a key)

  • Copy of "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe (linked in Extend section)

  • Argument Practice handout (see Attachments)

  • Articles for assessment (linked in Evaluate section)

  • Writing utensils


Students read the article "Watch This. No, Read It!" and use the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning strategy to unpack the argument. They will use this information to construct their first argumentative paragraph as a class, with guidance, during the Explain segment of the lesson.

Students will then participate in an I Think/We Think activity. First, students should write for a specified amount of time (at least 5 minutes but no more than 10) about the prompts below in their "I Think" column (these questions are also on PowerPoint slide four). They can answer all of the questions or the one or two they feel most strongly about, as long as they write the entire time.

  • What does it mean to have an argument?

  • What generally causes an argument?

  • When you're having an argument, how can you convince someone to agree with you?

  • Why is it important to be able to have a good argument?

Turn to slide five in the PowerPoint. Students will turn to an Elbow Partner to share their thoughts, adding new ideas into the "We Think" column. The teacher can then ask for volunteers to share with the whole class and students can add more information to that column.


For this group activity, cut argumentative paragraphs into sentence strips and put out of order (see "Group Activity Arguments" under Attachments). Students organize the strips into the argument they think would be most effective. The teacher leads students in a discussion about WHY they ordered the argument that way. The groups are bound to have differences in their decisions, and the teacher should encourage students to explore those differences, and maybe even try to come to a consensus as a class about the best choices.

After a few minutes, the groups mix up their strips, switch tables, and repeat the process. To keep students' engagement levels high, three rotations is optimal. Mixed-ability groups would work best for this activity.


Present information and examples about how to construct an argument (these begin on slide seven of the attached PowerPoint).

Students complete the guided notes ("Argumentative Writing Notes" can be found under Attachments) according to what they learn through the PowerPoint presentation's slides seven and eight, which review paragraph structure and identify how writing an argument is similar to expository writing. Next, the notes introduce the idea of a counterclaim and explain how to address the opposite point of view without undermining one's own argument (PowerPoint slides nine through 11). Examples are provided in the presentation.

Students refer back to the important information they identified in the "Watch This. No. Read It!" article (from the Engage portion of the lesson). Then, lead the students in constructing an argumentative paragraph as a class using the paragraph structure outlined earlier. PowerPoint slides 12-13 address argument structure and give an example paragraph.


Students read the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. Engage students in a discussion about whether or not the narrator of the story is reliable.

Present slide 14 of the PowerPoint, which contains an argumentative prompt about "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. Students work in groups to structure their argument using the argument practice handout (see Attachments for "Argument Practice-Tell Tale Heart"). Have the groups number off. Even numbered groups will be arguing yes, and odd numbered groups will be arguing no.


Students read an article on their own and write an argumentative paragraph independently.

An example is the article "Bottle Flipping Becomes the Rage with Middle Schoolers." Students answered the question "Should our school ban bottle flipping? Use evidence from the text to support your claim." Other possibilities include:

  • "How Writing by Hand Makes Kids Smarter" from The Week, which explores the difference between writing information by hand and typing it and how that impacts learning, which is relevant to students as more of their education involves devices.

  • Another article that could be used is "I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar-Here's Why" by Kyle Wiens. Grammar instruction has changed a great deal as education evolves, and it typically evokes strong reactions from students.

You can evaluate student learning by grading their paragraphs according to a rubric (a sample rubric can be found under Attachments, "Argumentative Paragraph Rubric").

Students evaluate their own learning by engaging in a What Did I Learn Today activity and taking time to reflect upon their progress toward the essential question.

Students participate in a final quick write to answer the essential question: Why is it important to be able to construct an effective argument? You can ask for volunteers to share their thoughts with the class.