Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

They Say, I Say Writing

Brandy Hackett, Margaret Salesky, Lindsey Link | Published: July 26th, 2021 by K20 Center


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They Say, I Say Writing

A scaffolded, two-paragraph argumentative writing template that allows students to enter into academic conversations by first summarizing the argument of the given text and then asking students to explain their own opinions regarding the topic.

They Say, I Say Writing


Students first read and analyze a given text in order to enter into the argument. The first paragraph allows the students to explain the argument they are entering. The second paragraph provides an opportunity for students to explain their own, personal claim and reasoning on the given topic. The sentence frames allow students to practice setting up academic arguments.


  1. Students read and analyze a provided text.

  2. Students complete the first paragraph template based on the text they read by filling in the blanks:

    “The general argument made by (author)_______________ in the work, (title)_______________, is that (general topic)_______________. More specifically, (author's last name) _______________ argues that (main argument)_______________. She/he writes, “ (provide specific example/quote to support main argument)_______________.” In this passage, (author's last name)_______________ is suggesting that (explain the purpose of the example/quote)_______________. In conclusion, (author's last name)_______________’s belief is that (restate main argument)_______________.”

  3. Students brainstorm their own opinions regarding the text. Suggestions include re-reading and annotating, quick writing, or think-pair-sharing of their ideas.

  4. Students complete the second paragraph template based on their own opinions by filling in the blanks:

    “In my view, (author's last name)_______________ is wrong/right (choose one), because (provide general argument)_______________. More specifically, I believe that (give a specific reason/s)_______________. For example, (give a textual or real-life example to support your argument)___________. Although (author's last name)_______________ might object that (explain what the author's counter-argument would be)_______________, I maintain that (provide your reasoning to support your side)_______________. Therefore, I conclude that (restate your opinion)_______________.”

Stuart, D. (2018, November 8). A Simple, Two-Paragraph Template that Helps Kids to Really Argue. Dave Stuart Jr.