Persuasion vs. Argument: Analyzing to Formulate A Judgment

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SWBAT explain and evaluate arguments or claims in a text; introduce claims with sound evidence and reasons in an compare/contrast essay.

Big Idea

Convince Me through Your words NOT Your actions!

Lesson Introduction

Students can quickly define ways that arguments are seen in everyday life. This particular lesson not only focuses on the denotation of argument but its demonstration in relation to literature, point-of-view, and essay writing. An argument is a reasoned, logical way of demonstrating a writer’s position, belief, or conclusion. In ELA classrooms, students make claims about the worth or meaning of a literary work, defending their interpretation with evidence from the text.

Arguments seek to make others believe that something is true or persuade others to change a behavior or belief. The Common Core requires students to utilize the use of argument to support their claims with textual evidence. Students need to move from persuasion to argumentative writing in the upper grades. To begin validating this notion, this lesson will allow students to analyze works of persuasion and argument to understand which contains the stronger language and rationale from the writer.

Bell Ringer: What's Argument?

5 minutes

To hook students in today's lesson, I ask the question

What is an argument?

Students will work independently as seen in this  Classroom Video: Connection to Prior Knowledge on creating definitions for argument. At the end of the timed writing, I call on students to share thier answers with the class. As students talk, I place thier responses on the board. At this moment in the lesson, students are not required to defend their responses. However, once the learning activities of the lesson are complete, students will use thier understandings to revisit responses from earlier in class to see if certain definitions can be eliminated from our list.

Building Knowlege: Argument vs. Persuasion

7 minutes

What is the difference between argument and persuasion? Students will answer this question by taking notes from a Argument vs Persuasive power point. As I facilitate a small discussion with students, a Venn Diagram is provided for students to take notes on. Watch this Classroom Video: Gradual Release on what this process looked like for students at this point of the lesson.

The choice to use the Venn Diagram allows students to see visually how the use of persuasion and argument mainly differ despite both usage of claims made by individuals. Although we are note-taking here, students will utilize these notes in the next station activity when looking at pieces of writing. 

Independent Practice with Station Work

30 minutes

Students will spend the bulk of class time moving through station activities that aid in thier understanding of argument and persuasive writing. Because students are heterogeneously grouped, their various cognitive levels will allow them to dive deep into the understanding of each station activity task. Groups were given the Station Rotation Instructions prior to moving through the first station.

Activity One – Key Terms for Argumentation

In this activity, students match the definition of Argumentative Key Terms . On my cue, they have 10 minutes to match up all contents from the ziploc bag. This knowledge of key terms will help students in talking or writing statements for the purpose of argument.

Activity Two - Playing with Arguments

In this station, students read CELL PHONES IN SCHOOL - Persuasive or Cell Phones Should NOT Be Allowed on School Campus - Argument as a group. To began putting in perspective how argumentative and persuasive essays look similar, students will work together to complete an organizer that contain differences in how claims are presented to its readers. The relevance of this station at the time in the lesson takes the notes from the beginning of class and puts it in perspective for students on a topic that all feel so passionately about, cellphones in school.

Activity 3 - Analyzing Arguments

This last activity ask students to read arguments and choose one to analyze by answering the following questions on a note card

  • What is the speaker’s claim? What does s/he want you to believe?
  • What reasons does s/he give for his claim?
  • What facts, quotations, evidence, or specific details does s/he
    give to support those reasons?
  • Is there a counterclaim? What is it?


After groups have picked the argument to analyze, groups will share thier responses and discuss whether they agree or disagree about their peers’ claims and counterclaims. My focus will direct students’ attention to the use of specific evidence from the text to support their points. Take a look at this Classroom Video: Station Rotation to see how groups were able to move through different stations based on thier pacing with completing activities. 

Wrap-Up: Back to the Definitions

5 minutes

We will end class by going over the definitions placed on the board about argument. As I go over each response, I ask students whether I can mark through words that counteract with what we have just learned in our station activities. Watch this Classroom Video: Checks for Understanding to hear what new discoveries were given by students from work influenced through prior knowledge, collaboration, and interactions with informational text.