Construct an Argument

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SWBAT clearly state an opinion on the topic of dams and support their opinion with reasons and a call to action.

Big Idea

Students can use research to generate a clear opinion on a controversial topic.


15 minutes

What actions could people take about dams? This is the question I pose to students at the start of this lesson. I ask students to think about what people could do if they thought dams were helpful and if they thought dams were harmful. I guide students to create a list on the whiteboard of potential actions. This list includes: people could do nothing, people could remove dams, people could protest dams, people could remove some dams, and people could add more dams.

According to the state created rubric, students must end their paper with a call to action. The creation of this class list serves as the first step in scaffolding this process.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

Next, I guide students through a review of the rubric. At this point, students have drafted a paragraph on the perspective of three stakeholders and have drafted a paragraph introducing their opinion and relating the issue to rights and the common good. The next step is to create a conclusion paragraph which gives clear reasons for the student's opinion and includes a call to action.

I ask students to use the rubric to self-assess their own progress and identify any areas they still need to address in their final paragraph.

Independent Writing

15 minutes

Using the paragraph outline, I ask students to draft their concluding paragraph. I ask students to write a sentence summarizing their opinion on the topic in the center box. In the top two boxes, I ask students to write sentences explaining the reasons for their opinion. In the bottom two boxes, I ask students to include a call to action. I remind students to refer back to the list we created at the start of the lesson to help them create a call to action.

I then provide time for independent writing. During this time, I answer questions, guide students as they create their call to action, and help provide support throughout the classroom.  

A sample of a student's completed paper (including all five paragraphs created in this unit) can be found here. A video of a student sharing her concluding paragraph can be found here