Guide to writing an Argumentative Essay for your middle schooler - contributed by VSA Future Writing Academy
An argument, who hasn’t been in one? We argue on the school playground, argue with a best friend, argue whose best friend is better. We’ve all either been in an argument or tried our hardest to avoid one, but what happens when you have to write about one? Did anyone groan at that question?
Have no fear! This article is here are quick and effective tips with 5 basic rules that will help you write a great argumentative essay, no matter what you’re arguing.
Tip #1: Pick a side, any side
It can’t be an argumentative essay if you don’t know what you’re arguing for or against. The simplest way to start an argument is to know what side you’re arguing for and to stick to the side until the very end. Sometimes the simplest statements of “I think. . .” or “I believe. . .” are a great way to start thinking about what side of the argument you’re on.
Here are some questions: Should schools push back their start time? Should healthy lunch meals be served to every student? Do you like the color black or blue?
Tip # 2: But Why?
Because I felt like it! If only that could be a valid reason for everything you have to explain (it’s not). But it’s not that complicated either. You picked a side of the argument, but now you have to have reasons explaining why that side. The magic number to remember here is three. Any good argument needs to have at least three reasons that support your claim, and you get them by asking why. Why did you pick the color blue—? Give three reasons. Why should school days start later? Give three reasons.
Remember, your argument is only as strong as your reasons. The sentence that has the chosen argument and three reasons to support the argument is what we call a thesis statement. That is if you want to sound all fancy and impress everyone around you!
Tip # 3: Find A Partner
A key to any good argument is finding good, strong evidence. In other words, find people who know what they are talking about, have been published properly, and now have come to your rescue. It’s an important element in your argumentative essay to have evidence that supports what you’re arguing for. The support could come in many forms: quotes, expert opinions, graphs, charts, or any form of data.
For instance, if you argue that school should serve healthy lunch for reason a, b, and c, then you need to find people that will support those reasons. The magic number here is two. Two pieces of strong evidence to support each reason. (When did an argumentative essay become a test in knowing how to add?)
Tip #4: Know Your Opponents
It’s just as important to know the other side of the argument as well as knowing yours. Wait. . . Why?!
You must address the other side of the argument in your essay, so that you can counter argue it. The whole mission of the argumentative essay is to make a strong case for your side, and nothing makes a stronger argument than knowing what the other side is thinking. It’s called being prepared with the counterclaim, and having a strong rebuttal to prove your argument is stronger.
The key here is to be prepared to defend your side till the very end. And yes, all this work is happening through writing. Let’s not forget that while playing mind chess!
Tip # 5: Take A Bow
Here’s the grand finale, time to put it all together. You’ve done all the hard work of thinking of good reasons to support your argumentative essay and then of finding strong evidence to support those reasons. Now is not the time to confuse your readers! Simply leave them with a thought about your side of the argument. Keep it short, neat, and clean!
These are the five basic rules to keep in your back pocket when writing an argumentative essay. Remember, writing is a process, so always be open to feedback and revisions. Happy writing!
To learn more about argumentative writing, along with personal narrative and literary analysis, sign up for VSA Future’s Summer Writing Workshop. Young writers develop a critical eye and flex essay-writing muscles with weekly assignments. They begin by studying model texts in literary analysis, opinion writing, and personal narrative before tackling their own drafts. Over the course of summer writing sessions, students prepare for the increased rigor of their Fall 2021 writing classes and equip themselves with the tools and strategies for in-depth writing. Summer Writing Workshop runs from June 28–August 25 in three 3-week sessions for students in grades 4–11. For more information, Learn More from VSA Future or visit bit.ly/vsayoutube.