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Appendix B: Sample Argument Writing Prompts

While acknowledging the importance of informative and narrative writing, the Common Core introduces a special emphasis on argument writing in grades 6-8. The following writing prompts, organized by grade level, are intended to provide ideas and inspiration as you incorporate argument writing into your curriculum. Feel free to modify these samples to fit your teaching purposes. You can adapt most prompts to a different grade by adding or removing specific criteria in a grade’s writing standard. Each grade’s argument-writing standard is included in full, for easy reference. To create your own prompts, keep this tip in mind: Build the writing task around an arguable claim. Some claims are controversial, while others are simply open to multiple interpretations or points of view. The essential quality is that it be a statement or idea that people can disagree about. Students should support the claim with evidence rather than simply appealing to the emotions of the reader. In grades 7 and 8, students should also address counterclaims. You can create short writing tasks by having students write for five minutes in response to a pro-or-con, either-or, or yes-or-no prompt. An example is “Should all public schools be required to create a green space, such as a garden, to help protect the environment?” Responses could be T-charts or freewriting. These quick tasks let students focus on articulating an arguable claim and identifying a supporting reason or two. In contrast, the longer writing tasks that follow require students to produce more sophisticated written responses.