This classroom-tested unit will take you and your students through the process of planning, drafting, revising, and polishing an argumentative (or persuasive) essay.
The first few days are structured, whole-class lessons. After that, the class moves into a series of writer’s workshop days as students complete mini-lessons and work on developing their own essays.
Detailed lesson plans guide you through 5 days of direct instruction and 10 days of writer’s workshop using mini-lessons.
All learning activities in the unit lead to the performance assessment, which has students plan, draft, revise, and polish an argumentative or persuasive essay on one of four topics.
A separate, fully editable rubric is provided for grade 7, 8, 9-10, and 11-12. Each rubric comes in two different styles and is aligned with Common Core standards for the identified grade level.
Students are given a library of online articles to use as support for their essays and as models for effective writing. Articles are grouped by topic to match the four topic choices in the performance assessment. Note: Students will need internet access to read these articles, or the teacher will need to create print copies from the original online articles.
Each mini-lesson walks the writer through the concept and gives specific directions for what to do next, so students can complete the lessons independently. Lessons are packaged both as single PDFs, for a paperless classroom, and all together in one document, to make printing easier if you prefer print copies.
* Writing a Thesis Statement
* Choosing Evidence
* Integrating Evidence Into Your Argument
* Building Background Knowledge
* Considering Your Audience
* Citing Sources[MLA Style]
* Title, Hook, and Closing
Printable materials help students study the craft, plan their writing, and track their progress through the unit.
You’ll get a carefully written set of instructions for implementing the unit, including advice for setting up the materials, tips on pacing, instructions for setting the unit up in a paperless classroom, and a full list of the Common Core standards aligned to the unit. Other materials, like answer keys, wall signs, and slideshows, are included for specific lessons.
A sample essay is provided, showing students how the writer plans, drafts, then revises an essay that fulfills the same requirements as their performance assessment. The revisions made by the sample writer line up with the skills taught in the mini-lessons, and changes are highlighted in bold so students can easily see the revision process in action. To help students understand the variety of ways they can write an argument, a second sample essay is provided, tackling the same topic with a different approach.
UPDATE: This unit now also includes an editable version of the Essay Planner, the graphic organizer students use to plan their essays. If you just want the organizer, it is being sold separately here
Is this REALLY for Grades 7-12?
This unit was taught in its entirety to four groups of 7th and 8th grade students of varying abilities. Any activities that didn’t meet the students’ needs were taken out, and those that worked well were refined and improved.
Advanced students were able to move through the materials without much assistance. Their writing showed significant improvement, because the lessons and sample essays set a pretty high bar for middle school writers. Other students needed more teacher support, but were able to accomplish most tasks in the unit.
Based on this experience, I would say that this would be a challenging unit for grade 7 and 8, but it would definitely be manageable.
For grades 9 and 10, this unit should be just right: Not too difficult for these students’ cognitive abilities, but certainly a challenge for most students. Most high school teachers tell me they have a large number of students who struggle with this kind of writing. This unit will give them practice with an excellent set of skills they can use for the rest of high school and beyond.
The majority of students in grades 11 and 12 will still find these activities challenging. If many of your students are already accomplished writers, this unit will provide the structure and guidance they need to write a solid argumentative essay, but you may need to set your expectations higher when you score their work. The scoring rubrics are editable for that purpose, allowing you to adjust your expectations if you feel your students need more of a challenge.
February 24 Update:
An updated file has now been uploaded. A few links in the unit were found to lead to outdated material. These were found on pages 17, 18, 38, and 42. These have been fixed. If you purchased this unit prior to February 24, 2016, please download the new file and replace your previous version. Thanks to the teachers who contacted me about these errors!