Sometimes argument writing seems very similar to informational writing (Common Core Writing Standard #2). They both incorporate information, and they have similar basic text structures: They must begin with an introduction that states the topic and end with a conclusion.
However, their aims are different and the body of an argument organizes information in a different way.
The purpose of informational writing is to examine and explain previously learned information or new information, and this information is typically organized into paragraphs of main ideas that are “chunked” into topics and sub-topics.
The purpose of argument writing is to convince a reader that a point of view is valid or to persuade the reader to take a specific action. Information is used, but it is organized based on these major components of an argument: claim, reason, evidence, counter-claim, and rebuttal.
Here are simple descriptions of these components to share with your students:
- Claim: the position taken by the writer; what the writer is trying to prove or argue
- Reason: provided to support a claim; reasons are supported by evidence
- Evidence: use to support or prove a reason; statistics, facts, quotations, surveys, etc.
- Counterclaim: opposing position, counterargument
- Rebuttal: refutes or disproves the counterclaim; addresses the criticism of the claim
And here’s an even simpler set of questions students can ask themselves to help remember each component:
- Claim: What do I think?
- Reason: Why do I think it?
- Evidence: How do I know (proof)?
- Counterclaim: What is the other side?
- Rebuttal: My response to the other side?
The claim is typically stated in the introduction, and restated again in the conclusion. The information in the body paragraphs is organized as a series of reasons supported by evidence. For arguments that include a counter-claim and rebuttal (a requirement for students in grade seven and beyond), there will be additional paragraphs that represent the counter-claim and rebuttal.
Content developed from Keys to Literacy Writing Routine