How to Argue

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13927

Do you know how to argue? That doesn't mean to quarrel or fight with someone. It means to make a claim and back it up with evidence. In this lesson, you'll learn to choose your argument carefully!

categories

Writing

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Tanner Welton has a strong argument about cell phone addiction. Watch this video and think about how he structures his argument. 

Cell Phone Addiction | Tanner Welton | TEDxLangleyED from TEDx Talks:

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  • What is Tanner's thesis in this speech?
  • Put another way, what is the claim that he makes?

The best way to present an argument is to state your claim (thesis) clearly and then provide the proof.

In the video above, Tanner argues that many people have a cell phone addiction and that this is very unhealthy.

You can identify an argument writer's thesis, or claim, by asking yourself:

  • What is the writer arguing for or arguing against?
  • What is he or she trying to prove?
  • What is he or she trying to persuade the reader to do or stop doing?

Just having a claim is not enough to win an argument. To be persuasive, a writer must convince us that he or she knows something about the subject and is able to treat it fairly, not just criticize those who disagree.

A good argument writer will also appeal to the reader's mind, making a clear and convincing argument based on facts, and not just appealing to emotions.

Read the following paragraph and decide what the claim is and whether the argument is persuasive.

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  • Did you find this argument persuasive?
  • Does the writer know something about the subject?
  • Does the writer treat the subject fairly?
  • Does the argument appeal to the reader's mind with facts and evidence?

Let's look at another example on the same topic.

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  • Did you find this argument persuasive
  • Does the writer know something about the subject?
  • Does the writer treat the subject fairly?
  • Does the argument appeal to the reader's mind with facts and evidence?

You probably noticed that the second example relies on an emotional appeal and doesn't provide much evidence. It also criticizes those who disagree, calling it a "crazy idea".

Now that you've seen what a good argument looks like--and what a poor one looks like--let's move on to writing some arguments!

Head over to the Got It? section now!

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