So let’s begin with argumentative writing, or persuasive writing, as many of us used to call it.
This overview will be most helpful to those who are new to teaching writing, or teachers who have not gotten good results with the approach you have taken up to now.
Yes, I was certified to teach the full spectrum of English language arts—literature, grammar and usage, speech, drama, and so on—but my absolute favorite, the thing I loved doing the most, was teaching students how to write.
Most of the material on this site is directed at all teachers.
It’s not exactly the 5-paragraph essay, but it definitely builds on that model.
I strongly believe students should be shown how to move past those kinds of structures into a style of writing that’s more natural and fitting to the task and audience, but I also think they should start with something that’s pretty clearly organized. One of the most effective ways to improve student writing is to show them mentor texts, examples of excellent writing within the genre students are about to attempt themselves.Before leaving this step, I would have students transfer their thoughts from the discussion they just had into something that looks like the opening paragraph of a written argument: A statement of their point of view, plus three reasons to support that point of view. Next I would show students their major assignment, the performance assessment that they will work on for the next few weeks. It’s generally a written prompt that describes the task, plus the rubric I will use to score their final product.Anytime I give students a major writing assignment, I let them see these documents very early on.Then again, I’m always interested in how other people do the things I can already do; maybe you’re curious like that, too.Before I start, I should note that what I describe in this post is a fairly formulaic style of essay writing.Then they take turns explaining why they are standing in that position.This ultimately looks a little bit like a debate, as students from either side tend to defend their position to those on the other side.I don’t claim to have the definitive answer on how to do this, but the method I share here worked pretty well for me, and it might do the same for you.If you are an experienced English language arts teacher, you probably already have a system for teaching this skill that you like.Once students have argued without the support of any kind of research or text, I would set up a second debate; this time with more structure and more time to research ahead of time.I would pose a different question, supply students with a few articles that would provide ammunition for either side, then give them time to read the articles and find the evidence they need.