Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Knowing the Facts! An Argumentative Writing Assignment

I just got done with one of my favorite mini units with my college freshmen. I've done it several times now and each time my students give me great feedback! Many have told me that they wish they'd been asked to do something like it prior to getting to the college level!

Let me tell you what I do for this unit.

I come up with a list of topics that are currently relevant to our society and that can be easily researched. I then assign groups of students each topic. I do this randomly. The students do not work together, but rather, work independently to write two, yes two, separate papers. In one paper they argue for their topic, and the other they argue against their topic! This way they have to have a clear understanding of both sides of the issue- regardless of their own personal beliefs.

After they've written both of these papers I have mini in-class debates! Each group of students is called up by topic and they get to provide points and counterpoints about their topic. What makes it tricky is that until they get to the front of the room the students don't know which side they will be arguing because, once again, I randomly decide that as well! I let them use their papers and it's all very casual. Typically these debates don't last more than 5-7 minutes.

It's interesting to debrief with them about whether they argued for the side they agreed with or not and or whether their opinions changed from doing this assignment. For many they said it actually helped them form an opinion on a topic they previously didn't know much about.

Would you like the lesson plan, assignment sheet, and topic cards that I use? If so follow this link to sign up for my newsletter. Then, the next day you'll get an email with a link to the pdf for you to download! I hope you find it useful!

Thanks for reading!


  1. If I'm already a subscriber, can I still get this lesson? My struggling freshmen would really benefit from the "both sides of the coin" concept.

    1. Absolutely- It should be in your December Newsletter that was sent out on the 13th!