Ideas For Teaching Informational and Argument Writing

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Teaching students to properly write an effective argument can be difficult. Trying to balance this important skill along with teaching other forms of writing is also a balancing act. Read how other middle and high school teachers are teaching both of these writing forms in their classes from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Teaching students to properly write an effective argument can be difficult. Trying to balance this important skill along with teaching other forms of writing is also a balancing act. Read how other middle and high school teachers are teaching both of these writing forms in their classes. These ideas were shared in a recent #2ndaryELA Twitter chat.

Q1: How do you teach the difference between informational and argument writing?


  • A1: I use the essay format for argument writing and then informational writing they have other output choices. i.e. infographic
  • A1: I start with a Venn Diagram
  • A1: I usually teach argument first. Ss must support their belief w/evidence from the text. Then I do informational = all objective
  • A1 cont: Ss always want to give an opinion so I find it easier to teach argument 1st, then work on just presenting facts
  • A1: We're required to teach informational 1st- then when I show argument writing, it's a few turns of the proverbial screwdriver
  • A1: I teach argumentative first as well. We use graphic organizers and exemplar essays.
  • A1: haven’t explicitly taught the differences. Usually, arguments are letters and essays, but info means research and presentation
  • A1: information writing aims to give the reader information. Argument aims to convince the reader you're right.


Q2: What are your students’ favorite assignments for either or both?


  • A2: Anything involving food for informative and history's mysteries for argument.
  • A2: I teach History & ELA so I like to utilize cross-curricular writing for informative writing.
  • A2 After Reading The Lady or The Tiger, writing about the fairness of our own justice system https://t.co/a2PTZa0CVe
  • A2: Like the mystery behind the statues on Easter Island or the purpose of Stonehenge...
  • A2: Food for informative because part of our research involves eating!
  • A2: Each year I create a different PBL related to argument. Last year it was a space debate!
  • A2: BEST argument assignment I’ve done was an editorial based on a #DoNow prompt from @KQED students gave me their best writing
  • A2: cont For informational I let students choose a topic to learn more about during our Holocaust unit
  • A2: My students enjoy class debates for argument. They also tend to like procedural texts.


Q3: What are students’ struggles with these types of writing?


  • A3: Students have difficulties with the format of argument writing and supporting their claims with solid evidence.
  • A3: in 6th and even 7th they struggle with organization at first. Then with the commentary. They like to repeat themselves.
  • A3: For argument, coming up with reasons to support their belief then supporting reasons with appropriate text evidence
  • A3: cont For informational, keeping their writing entirely objective
  • A3: My students often struggle with supporting their points, effectively elaborating, and coming up with valid arguments.


Q4: How do you address these struggles?


  • A4 To practice matching a belief, supporting reasons & evidence, I'll create an outline where Ss just have to fill in evidence
  • A4: I provide structured examples/models for students to work with as well as co-created examples.
  • A4: For commentary (elab) I have them answer these two questions: Why is this imp.? How does this support/prove the point?
  • A4 cont Then I'll do another outline where the main argument is there and the evidence, but Ss have to fill in the reasons
  • A4: For organization (structure) I teach them a mnemonic system I created.
  • A4: I've also created an outline of a mentor text, cut up the outline, then have students try to organize the ideas
  • A4: Mentor texts, modelling, scaffolding with tools like CAFE SQuIDD.
  • A4: I have found that writing conferences are the best way to address individualized student needs


Share tips for getting students to avoid plagiarism and use proper citation in these types of writing.


  • A5: I tell them the story of Kaavya Viswanathan who plagiarized a novel and was busted back in the early 2000s -Ss love a scandal
  • A5: Then I show them how not to be like her...use quotes & give the source!
  • A5: I try to get them using https://t.co/UmhjnBcr3F
  • A5: I use Google Docs, which has version history.
  • A5: We use https://t.co/QWyl9X3F1i. it checks for plagiarism. Kids can also check to make sure they paraphrased correctly.


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