Argument Writing At the Elementary Level Alicia M. Sabers University of Nevada Reno
Rationale: As the Common Core State Standards shift from opinion based persuasive writing to argumentative writing that convinces the audience through proof. How do I teach opinion based persuasive writing so that when students reach middle school they are able to write papers that convince the reader through proof of their claim and showing different points of view? My experience as an educator is as follows: 8 years of experience teaching second grade. I have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a Masters Degree in Education. This coming school year I will be teaching the fourth grade. I started my inquiry question based on this new shift from persuasive writing to argumentative writing in the elementary school. I had scored the state writing test for 7 years prior to the state changing to the computer based writing assessment and also changing to holistic scoring. My son was entering the eighth grade and I was concerned about him having to write an argument for his writing test. Luckily he passed. I could ever remember him having practiced in elementary school writing these types of essays. So knowing that all kids will be expected to write an argument based with evidence I wanted to know how to teach this complex concept to kids at the elementary school level. I was also concerned that argument writing would not be developmentally appropriate for the age of kids that I teach. Essential Question: • How do I teach opinion based argumentative writing so that when students reach middle school they are able to write papers that convince the reader through proof of their claim and showing different points of view? Standard: The CCSS have determined that in order for students to be ready for College or Careers beyond high school they need to be able to: write logical arguments based on substantive claims, sound reasoning, and relevant evidence is a cornerstone of the writing standards, with opinion writing—a basic form of argument—extending down into the earliest grades. This standard is part of Text Types and Purposes. Anchor standard number 1. Each year in their writing, students should demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and syntax to the development and organization of ideas, and they should address increasingly demanding content and sources.
Literature Review: According to John Kendall (2011). He defines the difference between the previously taught persuasive writing in most state standards as appealing to the reader through emotions. Argument writing convinces the reader through evidence offered by several different claims. As an elementary teacher I wondered how appropriate is this type of writing for elementary students. How do I teach argumentative writing to kids that have barely learned to write narrative papers? I agree that nonfiction writing is important to teach in the elementary grades. According to (Flowers & Flowers 41-‐43). There are four reasons to teach non-‐fiction writing in the early grades. It provides information to support curriculum in all subject areas. It prepares kids for standardized tests since a significant percentage of the questions are based on non-‐fiction material. Teaching non-‐fiction gives kids experience with different text structures like cause and effect and gives children access to different literacy experiences and prepares students to understand complex concepts. So with this in mind I think of how I am going to implement expository reading and writing into my elementary classroom? With the shifts of the Common Core, persuasive or argumentative writing which is evidence based is assessed in the 8th grade. Persuasive writing that is opinion based is assessed in the 5th grade. “Persuasive writing is a demanding task that requires the use of complex language to analyze, discuss, and resolve controversies in a way that is clear, convincing and considerate of diverse points of view.” (Nippold, Ward-‐Lonergan, & Fanning, 2005) This statement makes me wonder how developmentally appropriate is persuasive/argumentative writing for kids in the elementary schools, under the age of eleven. A study of 11, 17 and 24 year olds was completed to determine how developmentally appropriate persuasive writing was for these age groups. They found that as age increased essay length increased, as did the use of adverbs, nouns and verbs. Older writers wrote using more reasons and were able to better compare different viewpoints while attempting to convince the reader. Writing persuasive/argumentative papers are crucial to adults in society. Educated individuals need to be able to form opinions and support them while working with fellow colleagues. (Nippold et al, 2005). The findings of this study suggest that individuals quality of writing won’t increase until the writer enters Piaget’s stage of Formal Operational Reasoning. (Pulaski 1980). Which states: around eleven or twelve years of age children are able to reason logically about abstract things he or she has never experienced. Piaget also states that some adults may never reach this highest stage of cognitive development. So why should we teach such a complex task to kids in the elementary school? When kids write persuasive and argumentative essays they are better prepared for high school, college and the work force. This type of writing allows kids to voice their feelings about topics that they either agree or disagree with. They are motivated to take writing seriously and write for certain audiences. (King-‐Dickman 2011).
I believe that the Common Core State Standards has appropriately placed persuasive and argumentative writing into the standards and into the classrooms. By teaching kids under the age of eleven to write persuasive opinion based essays is raising the rigor to allow kids to grow as writers. These students having practiced writing to complex concepts will be prepared to write and enter middle school, high school, college and the work force more prepared as writers and be able to successfully make persuasive arguments. Future Practice: I am excited to have learned more about the Common Core State Standards and the shift that have been made in the area of writing. I plan on implementing writing topics where kids can write on all three-‐focus areas of the CCSS: narrative, informational and expository. By doing this I hope to continue to build on kids ability to write narratives and help kids grow as writers while writing informational and expository papers. Supporting Materials: Persuasive Essay Topics 1. Should students have to wear uniforms? 2. Should college athletes be paid for playing? 3. Should the elderly receive free bus rides? 4. Should state colleges be free to attend? 5. Should all American citizens have to complete a year of community service? 6. Should students be required to take Spanish classes? 7. Should the voting age be lowered to thirteen? 8. Should the driving age be raised to twenty-one? 9. Should students be paid for having good grades? 10.
Should not wearing a seatbelt be illegal?
Should students’ textbooks be replaced by notebook computers?
Should students have to pass a basic skills test to graduate high school?
Should schools raise money by selling candy and sugary soft drinks to students?
Should schools serve french-fries and fried potato products to students at lunch?
Should students’ grades in gym affect their grade point averages?
Should girls be allowed to play on boys sports teams?
Should teens be able to buy violent video games?
Should boys and girls be in separate classes?
Should our country have a universal health care program?
Should immigration laws be reformed?
Should the federal government recognize civil unions?
Should people who download music and movies illegally be punished?
Should school athletes have to be on the honor roll to play in games?
Should music with curse words be allowed at school dances?
Should public schools begin the day with a silent prayer time?
Should students be able to listen to MP3 players on headphones during study hall?
Should schools offer fast food options like McDonalds or Taco Bell?
Should smoking be allowed at parks and other outdoor public venues?
Should cities offer free public Wi-Fi?
Should the government place a tax on junk food and fatty snacks?
Should the 2nd amendment give citizens the right to own assault weaponry?
Should people travelling in airplanes have to undergo intensive security screenings?
Should restaurants be allowed to sell genetically modified chickens under the name “chicken”?
Should teachers have to pass a basic skills test every ten years to renew their certification?
Should people be allowed to keep exotic animals like chimpanzees or tigers?
Should people be allowed to keep pit-bull dogs?
Should the city offer a bike sharing program?
Should there be an ordinance citing people who fail to recycle $50?
Should there be an ordinance citing people who play music too loudly $50?
Should celebrities who break the law face stricter penalties?
Should the government increase spending on the space program?
Should larger passengers have to pay for two plane or movie theater tickets?
Should children have to use booster seats in cars?
Should people have to get a license to become parents?
Should there be tougher federal restrictions for content on the internet?
Should people be allowed to curse on daytime television?
Should owners be legally accountable for clearing snow from sidewalks on their property?
Should sexual education be taught in public schools?
Should students be able to get free condoms at school?
Should students who commit cyber bullying be suspended from school?
Should corporations be allowed to advertise in schools?
Should students be allowed to eat during class?
Should more be done to protect and preserve endangered animals?
Is it appropriate for students and teachers to be friends on Facebook?
Should students have open campus lunch periods?
Should abortions be legal?
Should abortions be legal in cases of rape and incest?
Should the death penalty be used to punish violent criminals?
Should students learn about world religions in public schools?
Should schools start later in the morning?
Should the USA end overseas military operations?
Should politicians be allowed to accept campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists?
Should people with terminal illnesses have the right to doctor assisted suicides?
Should Puerto Rico become a state?
Should stem cell researchers be able to use the stem cells from aborted babies to cure diseases?
Should school athletes have to take drug tests?
Should professional athletes have to take drug tests?
Should America convert to the metric system?
Should high school students have to complete community service hours to graduate?
Should teens over 13 years be allowed into R rated movies?
Should state tests be given in other languages for ESL students?
Should scientists be allowed to test products intended for human use on animals?
Should unhealthy fast food products be sold with a warning label?
Should there be a tariff or tax on products manufactured outside of the country?
Should students or teachers receive money for scoring well on standardized tests?
Should everyone under the age of 17 have a 9:00 PM curfew?
Should schools with low scores on standardized tests be closed?
Should minors be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages in their homes with their parentsâ€™ consent?
Should students be allowed to drop out before they turn 18 years old?
Should alcohol manufacturers be allowed to advertise on television?
Should students as young as fourteen be allowed to hold jobs?
Should American families have a two child max rule to limit population growth?
Should children younger than thirteen be allowed to watch MTV or music videos?
Should people who are caught driving drunk lose their licenses for a year?
Should students who fail their classes be retained and have to repeat the grade?
Should large businesses and corporations be required to employee a number of minorities proportionate to the population?
Should female construction workers earn the same wages as males?
Should children in temporary living situations with 3.0 GPAs earn free college tuition?
Should gambling and sports betting be illegal or should the government regulate it?
Should children who commit violent crimes be tried as adults?
Should the government be allowed to detain suspected terrorists without trial?
Should the government censor internet content deemed inappropriate?
Should teachers have to wear uniforms or have a dress code?
Should teachers be allowed to have cell phones in the classroom? 100. Should the state execute dogs that have bitten someone? 101. Should talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving be illegal?
Peer Review Guidelines for Persuasive Letters Author Reviewer Directions: Read your letter aloud while reviewers listen carefully. When you finish reading, ask reviewers to write any questions or comments below. Reviewerâ€™s Questions/Comments after Listening: After all group members have read their drafts aloud, the group will read each draft silently and answer the following questions. Identify the intended audience for the letter. How does the writer address the needs and interests of that particular audience? What does the author want the audience to do? (This should be the writerâ€™s goal or thesis statement.) How does the writer convey this to the audience? What reasons does the writer use to persuade readers? How does the writer organize the content of the letter? Do reasons and examples seem to be sequenced in a logical order? Identify something the writer does particularly well. Identify something the writer can do to improve the letter.
Bullying and Teasing: No Laughing Matter Bullying: Know the facts about bullying, even if you donâ€™t think bullying affects your child.
Unfortunately, teasing is often part of growing up â€” almost every child experiences it. But it isn't always as innocuous as it seems. Words can cause pain. Teasing becomes bullying when it is repetitive or when there is a conscious intent to hurt another child. It can be verbal bullying (making threats, name-calling), psychological bullying (excluding children, spreading rumors), or physical bullying (hitting, pushing, taking a child's possessions). How Bullying Starts Bullying behavior is prevalent throughout the world and it cuts across socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and cultural lines. Researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either perpetrators or victims. Bullying can begin as early as preschool and intensify during transitional stages, such as starting school in 1st grade or going into middle school. Victims of bullying are often shy and tend to be physically weaker than their peers. They may also have low self-esteem and poor social skills, which makes it hard for them to stand up for themselves. Bullies consider these children safe targets because they usually don't retaliate.
Effects of Bullying If your child is the victim of bullying, he may suffer physically and emotionally, and his schoolwork will likely show it. Grades drop because, instead of listening to the teacher, kids are wondering what they did wrong and whether anyone will sit with them at lunch. If bullying persists, they may be afraid to go to school. Problems with low self-esteem and depression can last into adulthood and interfere with personal and professional lives. Bullies are affected too, even into adulthood; they may have difficulty forming positive relationships. They are more apt to use tobacco and alcohol, and to be abusive spouses. Some studies have even found a correlation with later criminal activities. Warning Signs If you're concerned that your child is a victim of teasing or bullying, look for these signs of stress: • Increased passivity or withdrawal • Frequent crying • Recurrent complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach-aches or headaches with no apparent cause • Unexplained bruises • Sudden drop in grades or other learning problems • Not wanting to go to school • Significant changes in social life — suddenly no one is calling or extending invitations • Sudden change in the way your child talks — calling herself a loser, or a former friend a jerk How to Help First, give your child space to talk. If she recounts incidences of teasing or bullying, be empathetic. If your child has trouble verbalizing her feelings, read a story about children being teased or bullied. You can also use puppets, dolls, or stuffed animals to encourage a young child to act out problems. Once you've opened the door, help your child begin to problem-solve. Role-play situations and teach your child ways to respond. You might also need to help your child find a way to move on by encouraging her to reach out and make new friends. She might join teams and school clubs to widen her circle. At home and on the playground:
Adults need to intervene to help children resolve bullying issues, but calling another parent directly can be tricky unless he or she is a close friend. It is easy to find yourself in a "he said/she said" argument. Try to find an intermediary: even if the bullying occurs outside of school, a teacher, counselor, coach, or after-school program director may be able to help mediate a productive discussion. If you do find yourself talking directly to the other parent, try to do it in person rather than over the phone. Don't begin with an angry recounting of the other child's offenses. Set the stage for a collaborative approach by suggesting going to the playground, or walking the children to school together, to observe interactions and jointly express disapproval for any unacceptable behavior. At school: Many schools (sometimes as part of a statewide effort) have programs especially designed to raise awareness of bullying behavior and to help parents and teachers deal effectively with it. Check with your local school district to see if it has such a program. Schools and parents can work effectively behind the scenes to help a child meet and make new friends via study groups or science-lab partnerships. If you are concerned about your child: • Share with the teacher what your child has told you; describe any teasing or bullying you may have witnessed. • Ask the teacher if she sees similar behavior at school, and enlist her help in finding ways to solve the problem. • If she hasn't seen any instances of teasing, ask that she keep an eye out for the behavior you described. • If the teacher says your child is being teased, find out whether there are any things he may be doing in class to attract teasing. Ask how he responds to the teasing, and discuss helping him develop a more effective response. • After the initial conversation, be sure to make a follow-up appointment to discuss how things are going. If the problem persists, or the teacher ignores your concerns, and your child starts to withdraw or not want to go to school, consider the possibility of "therapeutic intervention." Ask to meet with the school counselor or psychologist, or request a referral to the appropriate school professional.
Writing to Argue The most important aspect… Sometimes… On the other hand… Firstly… Secondly… However… Nevertheless… On balance… Moreover… Despite the view that… Notwithstanding… Research shows that… The evidence clearly shows that… Another factor to be considered is… Opponents declare…but… it can be reasoned... it can be contended... it can be debated... in can be indicated... it can be thought out... it can be concluded... it can be considered... it can be shown... A counter argument might be … I might be argued, however, that … One question that might need to be asked is … It is questionable whether … There is an inconsistency with … This would not be appropriate when … This could present difficulties when … This method is useful where … A drawback/disadvantage/limitation of this is… This has been criticized/challenged by … A more beneficial approach is …
Writing with Opinions Some people think… It would be really useful to consider… Do they really think that… In my experience… What would the consequences be… Common sense dictates that… What would happen if … All reasonable people think… By far the best solution would be… Do we really want… It is frightening to think that… We need to make sure that… I have no doubt at all that… Imagine what would happen if… I am sure you will agree that… There can be only one conclusion… Is it really worth it … I believe that … A friend of mine says … Do you really think… We can solve this by … It will ruin your life… Surely… Nobody believes that…
Argument Writing Graphic Organizer
References Flowers, T. & Flowers, L. (2009) Nonfiction in the Early Grades: Making Reading and Writing Relevant for All Students. Journal for the Liberal Arts and Sciences, vol. 13(2) 40-50. Kendall, J. (2011) Understanding the Common Core State Standards. Alexandria: ASCD
King-Dickman, K. (2011) Writing that Changes the World: Persuasive Essays in Fourth through twelfth Grade. The California Reader, vol. 44(2), 27-33. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts & literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington D.C.: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. Nippold, M.A., Ward-Lonergan, J.M., & Fanning, J.L. (2005) Persuasive Writing in Children, Adolescents, and Adults: A Study of Syntactic, Semantic, and Pragmatic Development. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, vol. 36, 125-138. Radcliffe, B., (2012) Narrative as a Springboard for Expository and Persuasive Writing: James Moffett Revisited. Voices form the Middle, vol. 19(3), 18-24. Spencer Pulaski, M.A., (1980) Understanding Piaget: An Introduction to Childrens Cognitive Development. New York: Harper and Row Traig, J. (Eds.). (2011). Donâ€™t Forget to Write. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
References for handouts: www.education.savetheredwoods.org www.ereadingworksheets.com www.readwritethink.org www.scholastic.com web.anglia.ac.uk/anet/student_services/public/Oct2010%20-%20Critical%20writing%20%20useful%20phrases.pdf www.scribd.com/doc/63129/Persuade-Argue-Advise-Writing-Key-Phrases