Building an effective argument requires nuanced thinking, logical reasoning, compelling evidence, and strong audience awareness. Because of these complexities, students sometimes struggle with persuasive writing. You can ease their difficulties by introducing scaffolds and minilessons to support their writing process.
Start by helping students choose a topic and develop a thesis.
How can I help students choose the right topic?
A good persuasive writing topic is debatable and holds students’ interests. If your students don’t feel strongly about their topics, they will struggle to write well about them. For this reason, you should avoid assigning a singular topic for your entire class. Instead, offer choice.
Present a choice board, like the one that follows, to help students explore a variety of potential topics.
How can I help students develop a thesis?
After students choose a topic, they will need to figure out what idea they want to express about it. The following multi-step activity helps students identify a focus and develop a strong thesis (claim) for their argument.
Consider this support for the activities.
- Choose a debatable topic.
- Understand the objective of a thesis statement.
- Study thesis development in action.
- Craft a strong thesis for an argument essay.
- Gather evidence to support your claims.
- Introduce a variety of mentor texts to point out how different opinion writers express their theses.
- Although thesis statements are generally one sentence long, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Sometimes students may need multiple sentences to express the thesis.
- Teach students the difference between a working thesis and a final thesis. A working thesis is a first attempt to express an opinion. It is the initial opinion students attempt to prove. But students' thinking may change as they research and write. (In fact, you should encourage such openness!) When a shift in thinking occurs, students should adjust their theses. Their final theses express where students ultimately land on their topics.
- Review relevant minilessons:
Check out Inside Writing for complete, digital units on argument writing.