Writing a Persuasive Essay

In this lesson students research opposing viewpoints on controversial issues and develop their own position papers. Though primarily for English classes, this lesson could be easily adapted for an interdisciplinary unit with social studies or science classes. In this lesson students will research and read articles on both sides of a controversial topic, identify a position on the topic, develop a logical argument defending a position, produce a persuasive essay or position paper with sources cited. The lesson addresses many areas of writing, logic, and language with ideas for remediation and assessment.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 11-12 reading and content, choosing flexibly...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.6
Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.5
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.6
Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.8
Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.10
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.5
Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.3
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience....
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.5
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.7
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.3
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
CLE 3001.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3002.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3003.1.1
Demonstrate control of Standard English through grammar usage and mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, and spelling).
CLE 3003.1.2
Employ a variety of strategies and resources to determine the definition, pronunciation, etymology, spelling, and usage of words and phrases.
CLE 3003.2.7
Participate in work teams and group discussions.
CLE 3003.3.1
Write in a variety of modes, with particular emphasis on persuasion, for different purposes and audiences.
CLE 3003.3.3
Organize ideas into an essay with a thesis statement in the introduction, well-constructed paragraphs, a conclusion, and transition sentences that connect...
CLE 3003.5.1
Use logic to make inferences and draw conclusions in a variety of complex oral and written contexts.
CLE 3003.5.3
Evaluate an argument, considering false premises, logical fallacies, and quality of evidence presented.
CLE 3003.5.4
Analyze the logical features of an argument.
CLE 3003.6.1
Comprehend and summarize the main ideas of complex informational texts and determine the essential elements that elaborate them.
CLE 3003.6.2
Analyze the organizational structures of complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3003.6.3
Read, interpret, and analyze graphics that support complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3003.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning and comprehension from various literary genres.
CLE 3005.1.1
Demonstrate control of Standard English through grammar usage and mechanics (punctuation, capitalization, and spelling).
CLE 3005.1.2
Employ a variety of strategies and resources to determine the definition, pronunciation, etymology, spelling, and usage of words and phrases.
CLE 3005.1.3
Understand and use a variety of sentence structures.
CLE 3005.2.7
Participate in work teams and group discussions.
CLE 3005.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different purposes and audiences.
CLE 3005.3.3
Organize ideas into an essay with a thesis statement in the introduction, well-constructed paragraphs, a conclusion, and transition sentences that connect...
CLE 3005.3.4
Revise documents to develop or support ideas more clearly, address potential objections, ensure effective transitions between paragraphs, and correct errors in...
CLE 3005.5.1
Use logic to make inferences and draw conclusions in a variety of complex oral and written contexts.
CLE 3005.5.3
Evaluate an argument, considering false premises, logical fallacies, and quality of evidence presented.
CLE 3005.5.4
Analyze the logical features of an argument.
CLE 3005.6.1
Comprehend and summarize the main ideas of complex informational texts and determine the essential elements that elaborate them.
CLE 3005.6.3
Read, interpret, and analyze graphics that support complex informational and technical texts.
CLE 3005.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning and comprehension from various literary genres.
GLE 0701.8.5
Identify and analyze common literary terms (e.g., personification, conflict, theme).
SPI 3001.3.14
Select the most precise word to provide clarity appropriate to audience and purpose.
SPI 3001.3.4
Select a vivid word (e.g., adjective, adverb, verb) to strengthen a written description.
SPI 3002.1.9
Recognize a shift in either verb tense or point of view within a writing sample.
SPI 3002.3.15
Select the most precise word to provide clarity appropriate to audience and purpose.
SPI 3002.3.4
Select a vivid word (e.g., adjective, adverb, verb) to strengthen a written description.
SPI 3003.1.1
Demonstrate the correct use of commas and lesser-used punctuation marks (e.g., hyphens, dashes, colons) in complex and sophisticated constructions.
SPI 3003.1.11
Correctly choose verb forms in terms of tense, voice (i.e., active and passive), and mood for continuity.
SPI 3003.1.5
Use previously learned techniques such as recognizing cognates, root words, affixes, foreign phrases, and textual context to identify unfamiliar words, including...
SPI 3003.1.8
Choose correctly or incorrectly spelled words.
SPI 3003.2.5
Identify the rhetorical devices used in a complex speech (i.e., rhetorical questions, parallelism and repetition, analogies, hyperbole, metaphors, simile,...
SPI 3003.3.13
Identify the targeted audience for a selected passage.
SPI 3003.3.8
Choose the transitional device that appropriately connects sentences or paragraphs within a writing sample.
SPI 3003.3.9
Rearrange the order of supporting paragraphs within a writing sample given a specified organizational pattern (comparison-contrast, chronological).
SPI 3003.4.3
Evaluate the reliability and credibility of sources for use in research.
SPI 3003.5.11
Identify the main claim, premise(s), evidence, or conclusion of a given argument.
SPI 3003.5.8
Determine whether a given argument employs deductive or inductive reasoning. (NOTE: NO Check for Understanding)
SPI 3003.6.3
Analyze the ways in which the organizational structure of a complex informational or technical text supports or confounds its meaning or purpose.
TSS.ELA.11-12.L.CSE.1
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking; consider complex and contested matters of usage...
TSS.ELA.11-12.L.CSE.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing; when reading and writing, use...
TSS.ELA.11-12.L.VAU.4
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on 11th -12th grade-level text by choosing flexibly from a...
TSS.ELA.11-12.L.VAU.5
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings in grades 11-12 reading and content; interpret...
TSS.ELA.11-12.L.VAU.6
Acquire and accurately use general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the...
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.CS.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author...
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.CS.5
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her own exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes...
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.CS.6
Determine an author's point of view and/or purpose in a text, analyzing how style and content contribute to its effectiveness.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RL.CS.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific...
TSS.ELA.11-12.RL.CS.5
Analyze how an author's choices concerning the structure of specific parts of a text contribute to its overall structure, meaning, and aesthetic impact.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RL.CS.6
Analyze how point of view and/or author purpose requires distinguishing what is directly stated in texts and what is implied.
TSS.ELA.11-12.SL.CC.1
Initiate and participate effectively with varied partners in a range of collaborative discussions on appropriate 11th - 12th grade topics, texts, and...
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.PDW.4
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.PDW.5
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most...
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.RBPK.7
Conduct and write short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem by...
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.RW.10
Write routinely over extended time frames and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.TTP.1
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning supported by relevant and sufficient evidence.
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.TTP.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to analyze, synthesize, and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the...
TSS.ELA.11-12.W.TTP.3
Write narrative fiction or literary nonfiction to convey experiences and/or events using effective techniques, well-chosen details, and well-structured...
TSS.ELA.9-10.W.TTP.3
Write narrative fiction or literary nonfiction to convey experiences and/or events using effective techniques, well-chosen details, and well-structured...
 
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Learning objectives: 
  • Students will research and read articles on both sides of a controversial topic. Students will identify a position on the topic.
  • Students will develop a logical argument defending a position. Students will produce a persuasive essay or position paper with sources cited.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Print resources related to appropriate topics
  • Computers with Internet access

References

Contributors: