Claim and Counterclaim - argumentative writing done with competitive groups of four or five students who share a market for the product -- A Cure for Unhappiness. This was so much more fun than another essay....
I developed this as a tangent from the literature "What do Fish have to do with Anything?" by Avi.
I told my 7th Graders that they were all in the business of selling a CURE for UNHAPPINESS. Their table-mates were their competition. Each of them have a DIFFERENT cure (Love, Money, Time, Food, Family, Trust, etc.). Each had to develop a set of claims about their own product, then the competitors would build counterclaims based on those claims.
These claims and counterclaims are worked out on scrap paper, then committed to the final brochure. The students enjoyed this MUCH more than and ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY. It gives them a role to plan and a practical application for counterclaims. It was a fun and successful three day project.