Editorial Writing: Let's figure out how to improve our argument instead of raising our voice

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SWBAT identify elements of successful editorial writing by reading various editorials

Big Idea

How can we write an editorial that presents a solid argument?

Warm Up

15 minutes

Students enter and get out their warm up sheet.  When the bell rings, I ask students to choose a partner and decide who is A and who is B.  Once that is established, I display the following on the Smart Board:

There are more and more demands on graduating seniors who either enter the workforce or go to college. Because of these increased demands, some educators want to extend high school to five years instead of the standard four years. Many colleges want students to enter with community service and/or work experience.  Extending to a five year program would make that possible. However, students might lose interest in that fifth year. Should high school be extended to five years?

If you are an A, you are arguing Yes!  

If you are a B, you are arguing No!

You have 60 seconds to write down your argument.  Make sure you have reasons backed with evidence.

I start the clock and let students write for one minutes.  Next, I explain that they will share their argument with their partner and I display the next instructions. 

If you are an A, you now have 30 seconds to read your argument to your partner.  Make sure you are practicing adult behaviors like looking your partner in the eye and not yelling.  GO!

If you are a B, you know have 30 seconds to read your argument to your partner.   Make sure you are practicing adult behaviors like looking your partner in the eye and not yelling.  GO!

When students are finished, I ask them to explain their experiences to me.  What were the frustrations?  Would they have argued better if they had time to research evidence?

I introduce today's lesson in this way so students understand how difficult it is to form a strong argument and the need to strong evidence.  This is the first of four examples they will have today of strong argumentation.  

After this exercise, I am going to ask students what they think contributes to a strong editorial.  I let them brainstorm for a few minutes and then write some thoughts on the board.  Their ideas will be supported by viewing this clip from Andrew Rosenthal, Editorial Editor of the New York Times.  Mr. Rosenthal offers seven tips on editorial writing.  Students will take notes while they view the short clip.  


Mini Lesson

10 minutes

Modeling is always important in my classroom.  I want to share my thinking, reading and writing with students on a consistent basis.  It's important that students understand that they are not the only ones who are going to work hard. Plus, often times when I am thinking about the mini lesson where I model, I begin to script the lesson in my head.  This helps me distinguish exactly what I need to say and do to make a successful lesson. I distribute "Should Students Be Able To Grade Their Teacher" from  The New York Times editorial.  As I read the editorial aloud, I am going to annotate it on the Smart Board.  I will make sure I note the author's claim and evidence (RI.9-10.2) .  While annotating, I'll explain how the evidence supports the author's claim ((RI.9-10.5). 

Student Work Time

40 minutes

Now it is time for students to dive into editorial reading! There will be six stations set up in the classroom with six different editorials.  (Each year, I choose timely editorials from my local paper, The Kansas City Star, The New York Times and the Miami Herald).   At each station, students will work together to read the editorial and take notes on the evidence based claim sheet. In their group, they will read the editorial and begin deconstructing the author's argument into his/her claim and supporting evidence.  This exercise allows them to get a feel for multiple editorials and be reminded that a good claim with supporting evidence is crucial in being a successful editorial writer.  

 I will give students five-seven minutes at each of the stations. I'm having students rotate because I like students to have some movement around the room.  It helps students stay focused if they can periodically move. Since I haven't taught this exact lesson before, I am going to be sure to leave some extra time available in case students need extra time with the editorials. I'll be sure to reflect on the timing of the lesson in the reflection that is attached here.  During student work time, students will visit six stations.  

At the end of this time, I ask students to choose an editorial that presents a topic they would be interested in writing about.  I give them debatable topic prewriting and explain that they are going to do some work on pre-writing with this topic.  It is okay if they aren't super excited about writing on any of the topics I gave them.  Rather, I want them to think about what additional reasons and places to find evidence.  Students reread the editorial they chose and complete the sheet.  This activity asks students to think about the author's purpose and consider what other evidence could be used to support that purpose.  

Collaborative Planning

15 minutes

Now that students have had an opportunity to think about a topic, reasons and evidence to support that topic, I want them to think about what they are passionate about.  This unit will end with them writing a 450 maximum word editorial and submitting that editorial to a contest.  I am going to give them five minutes to brainstorm a list of topics they are interested in (W.9-10.10).  At the end of five minutes, students pick a partner and collaborate.  Each partner will have five minutes to explain their favorite one or two ideas to their partner.  Their partner should help them think of reasons and places to find evidence. 


10 minutes

Anchor charts are an important part of my classroom.  For today's closure, students will create an anchor chart which will hang during this two week unit.  

Students will designate two scribes who will approach the anchor chart paper and take notes. They will record the thinking of their peers as they discuss the following prompt:

Based on today's work, let's record a top ten list of successful editorials/argumentative writing.


They are using their experience with the editorial I modeled and the knowledge they gained while reading the various editorials today.  I will assure that our anchor chart list includes things like, strong claim, supporting evidence with strong explanation, a counter argument and formal language.  When students get stuck, they will have the anchor chart to refer back to guidance.  I will also use the anchor chart as reference when creating a checklist for their editorial.