The results of the editorial contest are in and although we didn't win, we want to read the winning editorials and evaluate what makes their argument so effective. First, students and I will review what makes an editorial great. We will make a list including a strong claim, effective evidence and a counterclaim. I will also make sure to mention to the students that while they are reading editorials today I want them to try to hear the writer's voice. Often times, strong argumentative writers have a very distinct writing voice that sways the audience. Once our list is complete, students will head to a computer.
Identifying writer's voice will probably be the most challenging part of this lesson. Once students begin working, I'll stop them after five-six minutes and ask them to turn to a neighbor and explain the difference in the authors' voices.
After receiving the editorial reviews assignment, students move to a computer and go to the NYT Learning Network Student Editorial Contest page. Once there, they will have 25 minutes to read six editorials and complete the editorial reviews page. The assignment asks students to identify an author's claim and evaluate its effectiveness (RI.9-10.6) and identify and evaluate an author's most effective piece of evidence (RI.9-10.5). Students love to see writing of their peers explains why I allow students this opportunity to review these editorials.
After students are finished looking evaluating six editorials, we will end class with a discussion about which editorials were most effective and why. I will ask questions like:
Which editorial did you find most convincing and why?
Which editorial had the most unique topic?
Which editorial do you think was absolute best?
Which author's voice could you most hear?
Which editorial did you read and not understand or still have questions about?
Next time you are asked to write an argumentative essay, what will you do differently?
I hope that students will be able to see the qualities of effective argumentation used by students their own age.