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Teacher Tips and Answers

Prewriting for Argument Essays

When two people have opposite opinions about a controversial topic, a loud argument can result. A logical argument also involves a controversial topic but uses reasoning instead of shouts. These activities will help you find a controversial topic, research the issue, develop a position about it, and organize your supporting reasons.

Prewriting to Consider Controversies

In the warm-up to this unit, you thought about three different types of controversial positions: opinions, proposals, and hypotheses. You thought about controversies you encountered among friends, family, and teachers. In search of a topic for your argument essay, you should also consider controversies farther afield.

One student thought about the following controversial positions that he encountered at school, read about in local and national newspapers, and discovered on Google News.



Opinions (People think . . .)

Proposals (People should . . .)

Hypotheses (Something is happening because . . .)

School News

Students think we have too many tests.

The school should shift to online textbooks.

Teacher morale is low because society undervalues them.

Local Newspaper

Restaurant owners think allowing food trucks would be a disaster.

The city council should allow food trucks into our community.

Flooding downtown is becoming more frequent because of new developments along the river.

National Newspaper

People think they need to choose a side politically, but the middle is where work gets done.

We should consider the Australian model in addressing our gun-violence problem.

Lax restrictions on lobbying and campaign finance make our country open to the highest bidder.

Google News

Europeans think they can no longer count on the U.S. as an ally.

We should fill the many diplomatic vacancies in the U.S. State Department.

The shift toward nationalism in many countries is caused by a large influx of refugees from neighbors.

Write down one controversial position that interests you:

I'm interested in the food-truck controversy. People at school are talking about it, and the local paper had a long article about a city council meeting where the topic blew up.

What reasons do people give to support this position?

Young people want food trucks for new, affordable food options. Restaurants don't want them because of competition and parking.

Do you agree or disagree with this position? What reasons do you have?

I don't know my position yet. I like the idea of more options for eating and attracting more people to our city, but I also see the point of restaurant owners who have a big investment here. I'll have to do further research to make up my mind.

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