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Argumentative Writing that Actually Listens -- Total Product Package


A 20-page PDF instructional unit on argumentative writing that teaches students to listen to differing perspectives as they interrogate their own, read and write critically across sources, and make verbal and written arguments that try to solve problems rather than to “win.”

The bundle can be applied to any argumentative writing assignment or topic. It will take you and your students through the process of planning, researching, and drafting, an argumentative essay that actually listens to the other side.

Teacher Materials:

You’ll get a carefully written set of suggestions for use to guide you as you facilitate this work with students

Student Materials:

Printable materials:

  • “Humanize the Other Side” graphic organizer to build background on all stakeholders

  • “Research with ‘Two Heads’" guided research analysis to understand articles from multiple perspectives

  • "Fill-in-the-Blank" rough draft, featuring sentence starters and organizational framework

  • ICEEE anchor chart


It can help the teacher…

  • ADDRESS CONCERNS over the polarized debates taking place in online spaces, the media, and our Thanksgiving dinner tables

  • TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT of revamping the broader societal discourse—which is no small feat!

  • DIRECT STUDENTS’ INDEPENDENCE PRACTICE with easy-to-follow graphic organizer, sentence starters, “fill-in-the-blank essay” structure, and ICEEE anchor chart

  • SHIFT THE COGNITIVE LOAD back to students as they thoughtfully disseminate their research with independence  

  • SPEED UP FEEDBACK TIME with easy-to-see holes in student writing template

  • MAKE GRADING ESSAYS MORE INTERESTING because writers break free from the echo chambers that drive society to maintain “ideological isolation”

  • MEET COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS to “respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives” (English Language Arts Standards, SL.9-10.1.D) and “write . . . for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences”(English Language Arts Standards, Writing.9-10.10)

It can help students with…

  • PURPOSE by equipping students to listen to the heart of their opponent and speak to those concerns

  • TONE by avoiding angry, corrosive language 🤬👿🗯 that attempts to ignore or yell louder than opponents

  • AUDIENCE by using guided, imaginary rehearsals of the larger human experience to listen to the other side

  • RESEARCH ANALYSIS by scaffolding students to get into the heads of supporters and opponents

  • RHETORICAL DEVICES by introducing how trust, fear, motivation, and value impact both sides of the debate

  • DETAILS by cueing them to include often-forgotten components, like in-text citations, transition words, etc.


This classroom-tested resource is the result of an incredible action-research project. With a team of National Writing Project teacher researchers, I spent time the last few years examining the pitfalls of argumentative writing and crafted methods to teach students to use nuance and empathy to achieve productive civil discourse.

The concept and accompanying materials have been shared at the National Council of Teachers of English annual conference, published in the NCTE English Journal, and included in the book Raising Student Voice: 35 Ways to Teach Argument Writing from Katherine Schulten, editor-in-chief of The New York Times Learning Network. 

-Quantity 1+
  • You will receive a 20-page PDF emailed to you.
  • Size5.91 MB
  • Length20 pages


Argumentative Writing that Actually Listens -- Total Product Package

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