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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources

Grades 9-10

Writing W.9-10.1

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
  • Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
  • Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

If there’s one thing you know for sure, it’s that teenagers LOVE to argue. Though they’re quick to protest verbally, often they dread the written argument. In this standard, you’ll be guiding your students through the process of making claims, supporting these claims with evidence, and drawing analytical conclusions.

Also important to this standard is structure and style. Students will need to explore how to best structure an argument, appealing to logic and using clear transitions to link ideas and evidence. Students also need to write professionally, attending to the rhetorical context and any discipline-specific conventions.

The example that follows is just one way students might put these argument skills into practice in your class. Here we have a classical argument – take a controversial issue and defend your position. However, be sure to show students that arguments can be used in a variety of genres, such as proposals, advertisements, and analyses. Need to add some kick to this standard? Challenge your students to create a visual (collage, cartoon, photo essay, etc.) that uses rhetorical principles to make an argument. But first, we’ll start with the bunny slopes; here’s the more traditional assignment:


Assignment Example

For the fourth time this week, the school cafeteria is selling sour applesauce and bland mashed potatoes! The spaghetti sauce lacks flavor, but there are no shakers or packets of salt ANYWHERE IN THE ENTIRE BUILDING! Every time you have macaroni and cheese, it’s dried out. Why go on living? Disgruntled, you head to afternoon English class. There you discover that you will be working on a writing assignment; it’s an argumentative essay, a persuasive paper. Your teacher explains that you should choose a topic that has two sides to the issue, a topic that is near and dear to your heart. But you, my friend, are thinking more along the cafeteria lines of your stomach. Though you make a list of issues that you could write about, you’re consumed with irate thoughts about the cafeteria, so you decide to make that your topic.

Why does it have to taste so BAAAAD? Millie, the lunch lady, blames it on governmental interference to improve the nutritional aspects of school food. Ugh! You just want it to thrill your taste buds. Government should stay out of it! You think more about this topic and make it broader and more important, as your teacher suggests. You decide on: Should the government be involved in making decisions about our diets? You definitely know what side of the argument you’re going to take, and you’re going to send an e-mail to your local legislator when you’ve finished the task!

You write a strong thesis statement in which you claim that the government should NOT interfere in decisions you make about what you eat. You make a list of reasons why the government should stay out of affairs of the stomach. If they interfere with your food, what’s next? It’s all the fault of the food pyramid! The government has too much control already. Your teacher reminds you that you must also consider counterclaims, or reasons, why it should be involved. There is an obesity epidemic. Some foods are simply unhealthy, and someone does have to make sure that foods are produced safely. The government must protect its people. Yeah, yeah, those are some pretty good reasons for the opposition.

You consider what kind of appeals you will use. You’ll want to pull out all the stops on this one. Using logic, emotion, and ethics, you’ll lay out a plan that will sway your state representative to your side. You’ll be the hero of your school. You’ll appear on the Daily Show. You’ll…but you’re getting ahead of yourself. With dreams of grandeur, you head off to the computer lab to research health trends, state laws, obesity, nutrition, and civil liberties. You find many websites devoted to this issue. Whew, when it comes to food, EVERBODY has something to say. It’s a real buffet of information.

What will you rely on to help support your claims as well as to discredit the counterclaims of the opposing view? No doubt, a smorgasbord of evidence can help you: statistics, anecdotes, analogies, facts, expert opinions, and examples. To organize your essay, you know that you should present your strongest arguments at the beginning and at the end of the essay.

Also, you want the information to have a logical flow about it. Your introduction will contain the usual hook, thesis statement, and some hints of what’s to come. The body paragraphs will be arranged to cohesively showcase your strongest justifications. Each paragraph will contain a topic sentence that asserts one of your reasons and connects back to the thesis. This is followed by supporting evidence, or facts, from your research and a discussion of those facts and how they are relevant. You’ll check your notes and add SPECIFICS, such as examples, statistics, and personal stories to further steak…mmm...pun intended…your claim.

Don’t forget to acknowledge and address the counterarguments for your claims. Some counterarguments you might refute, some you might qualify, noting their limitations, and some you might concede, noting your own claim’s limitations. The conclusion will reiterate your claim and most convincing reasons while situating the issue in a broader context and leaving the reader with new and surprising insight—preferably one that leaves them drooling for double cheeseburgers.

Yes, your legislator will be convinced to stay out of your mouth. No more sweet potato “fries” for you… on to the real thing. And, pass the salt!

Drill 1

Fill in the blanks with the correct word. Some words may be used more than once.

Two Claims Evidence Important Counterclaims
Persuade Concluding Thesis Support

In this standard, your writing’s purpose is to (1)_____________ your audience to your way of thinking. Your topic should be (2)________________ rather than trivial, and the issue should have at least (3)____________ sides. The main way to present your position is to develop a (4)___________ statement which tells your reader what your thoughts are about the topic. In order to win the audience over, you need to make clear (5)_______________. These ideas are then supported by (6)___________ which can take the form of statistics, facts, anecdotes, expert opinion, and examples. Besides presenting your own line of reasoning, you must consider other possible (7)_________________________. The three key steps in your writing that help organize your paper are (8)______________, (9)_______________ and analysis. (10)______________ statements in your paragraphs follow and support the case presented.

1. Persuade – Arguments are all about the art of persuasion.
2. Important – If it doesn’t matter, why bother?
3. Two – At least two sides, but usually there are many more. You can’t have an argument without two sides.
4. Thesis – This is your central claim; the statement that holds everything together.
5. Claims – Claims are belief statements; own them!
6. Evidence – The proof!
7. Counterclaims – It’s difficult, we know, but there are people out there with valid perspectives different from yours. Don’t ignore them.
8. Claim – What do you think?
9. Support – Why do you think it?
10. Concluding – End strong, baby.