In almost every middle school across the country, English language arts instructors teach their students the art of writing an argument essay. Here is an exemplar that you can use to teach your students how to structure and craft this type of essay. In the works cited section, you will find the articles and video that I used, all of which can be found on-line. In the body of the essay, you will notice boldface type, which is done to highlight the counterclaims and italics to highlight the thesis (be sure to point out the opinion and three reasons). And I have typed the essay in single-space format to save paper—you will have to remind students to write with double. Typically, I read all the articles aloud to my students, and we take notes (paraphrase) along the way. I do the same with the news video. This ensures that they fully understand the topic before writing. Then, I show them the structure of a five-paragraph essay and explain that research on a particular topic does not always support this EXACT structure. After, we take a look at the model and then outline the structure, noticing that although it is not the classic five-paragraph structure with three supporting details in each body paragraph, it still is an effective essay. I have used parenthetical citations, and as well, I have given attribution to the speaker in sentences with direct quotations to show students a more sophisticated way of giving credit to the source.
Finally, for students on the lower end of the continuum, I have them write their argument essay on academic integrity using these same sources and format. Of course, I do not give them a model to keep lest they just copy it. But we do use the model in a deconstruction exercise before writing. For students capable of choosing and writing about a topic of their choice, the essay here merely serves as a model.