Argumentative vs. Persuasive: What’s the difference between argumentative writing versus persuasive writing? The answer is simple. Research.
Persuasive writing is opinion based.
Argumentative writing is research based.
You might have your students write a persuasive essay, and it probably would require little or no research. Example: Should uniforms be mandatory in schools? Students can easily come up with valid arguments without doing any research. That is persuasive writing.
One shift with the Common Core is that students should be doing more argumentative writing. That is, writing that persuades the reader one way or the other with research.
Does this mean that your students have to go out in search of their own information? Not necessarily.
The best way to ensure that the writing activities you are doing with your students are argumentative and not simply persuasive is to find writing activities that cannot be done without the specific reading passage or passages you give them. In other words, for argumentative writing, you want your students to be writing about something they didn’t know anything (or at least not much) about before your lesson started. Having students take a stand based on evidence in a reading passage and write an organized paragraph or essay about it is the ultimate goal in writing.
Citing text evidence
All rolled into one activity!
It’s the ultimate Common Core writing experience. Master this, show your principal, and you’re golden! Because argumentative writing is such a hard and complex skill, you must keep student interest at the center of any activity you do. Don’t attempt to practice such a hard skill with a topic or subject that your students care little about. If your students care about the subject and actually have an opinion about what you are asking them to write about, their writing is going to be SO MUCH BETTER!
I’m constantly thinking of and looking for topics that my students would care to write about. A prison escape with an open ending is something that is interesting to just about everyone. This activity on the Escape from Alcatraz is my favorite argumentative writing activity. It’s definitely introductory level as I do it with my 6th graders early in the year. I have made changes and added options in this packet so that it can be done with students as low as 3rd grade or as high as 8th. I’ve done it with my own son (3rd grader with exceptionalities – autism) and he was riveted and interested from the start.
Grab this lesson for free (today only!) through Google Docs.