Using the Debate/Essay Kit to Practice Argument Writing

Scope debates are a fantastic way for students to practice evaluating an argument, identifying supporting evidence, and writing a well-crafted argument essay. Students complete a text-marking activity, engage in a spirited debate, then use our Essay Kit to write their own argument essay.


Here’s our guide to using any Scope Debate/Essay Kit in your classroom.


What you’ll need:

Key skills:
identifying central ideas and details, speaking and listening, argument-essay writing 

two 50-minute class periods


1. Prepare to Read

  • Project the list of vocabulary words and definitions for students to refer to as they read. The practice activity can be completed after reading or it can be assigned as homework.
  • Give students a few minutes to preview the text features in the article—the headline, illustrations, cartoons, or photos, any charts or graphs, etc. Ask students what they think the article is going to be about.



2. Read and Text-Mark

  • Project the article. Read the article once through as a class.

A) Complete the following as a class, modeling text marking on your whiteboard while students mark their magazines: Using a red colored pencil, underline details that support the "Yes" side of the debate.


B) Divide students into groups and have them use a blue colored pencil to underline the details that support the "No" side of the debate.


3. Discuss the Author's Bias

  • Ask students to discuss the following in their groups: Do you think the writer shows bias—that is, a preference for one side of the debate or the other? Explain and support your answer with text evidence.


4. Choose the Strongest Details

  • Have students fill in the “Yes/No” chart in their magazines using the three strongest details that they underlined in the text for each side of the debate.



5. Hold the Debate

  • Have students divide themselves into two groups according to which side of the debate they agree with more. Have the groups stand on opposite sides of the room. Students can then debate the issue: One student offers a reason (support) for his or her opinion; a student from the other group then offers a counterargument.
  • Students may walk to the other side of the room if at any point during the debate they change their position on the issue. (Be sure to ask any student who does this why he or she did so.)
  • Encourage students to use text evidence to support their opinions.


6. Prepare to Write

  • Have students work individually to complete the Write an Argument Essay activity sheet and write their essays. (Optional: Have students research the topic further and include at least one additional source in their essays.)  
  • Students should revise their essay using the Argument-Essay Checklist and the Great Transitions handout.



Download a PDF of this lesson plan here

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