Argumentative Writing Unit: Grades 7-12

Cult of Pedagogy
Grade Levels
7th - 12th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • Zip
95 pages
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Cult of Pedagogy


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.




Unit Plan:

Detailed lesson plans guide you through 5 days of direct instruction and 10 days of writer’s workshop using mini-lessons.

Performance Assessment:

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.

Real-World Resources:

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 (includes forming counter-arguments)

* Citing Sources (MLA 8 Style)

* Title, Hook, and Closing

* Transitions

Student Materials:

Printable materials help students study the craft, plan their writing, and track their progress through the unit.

Teacher Materials:

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 and wall signs, are included for specific lessons.

Sample Essays:

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.



I also have a fantastic unit on narrative writing that uses a similar format.



Total Pages
95 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.
Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).


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