Arguing is exciting. Think courtroom dramas. If Law & Order can stay popular for twenty seasons, then why does argument writing sometimes fall a bit flat? I find that we often limit students a bit by making them focus on five paragraph essays and unrelatable topics. That’s why I like to use the following argumentative writing prompts in my classroom.
1. What’s one thing you wish was different about our school?
Write a letter to our principal, explaining what you would change if you were in charge and why. Give specific examples to support the need for your proposed change, since evidence always helps when it comes to convincing someone to try something new.
2. If you could propose a new class or program at our school what would it be? Why?
Write a letter to the superintendent, proposing this new course or program and explaining, in detail, why it would be a great addition to the curriculum we already offer.
3. What’s your take on screen time?
The world is highly divided on the issue of “screen time.” Whether or not kids in school should spend so much time on their phones, iPads, and computers is a subject of a lot of debate. What do you think? Take a stand on this issue. Provide examples from your own life and the lives of your friends, to help support your arguments for or against screen time in our lives.
4. What do you think our community needs?
Write an e-mail directed to our mayor, proposing a new event, public place, or resource that you think would help our community to thrive. As you describe your vision, be specific in explaining what you imagine and why it would be good for the community.
5. What do you wish your parent(s) or guardian(s) would understand?
Write to them, explaining why you feel you are right on an issue that has been difficult for you guys to agree on. Consider your arguments carefully, providing clear and specific evidence for why you feel your opinion is the best one.
6. What is something in our country that you feel must change now?
Take a stand on a national issue (gun violence, immigration, environmental control, civil rights, school funding, etc.) and write a letter to the editor of The New York Times, explaining why you believe what you believe. Give evidence from your own life and the lives of others you have known to support your argument.
7. What do you feel will distinguish your generation from the others that have come before?
Propose a name for your generation and explain why it fits, giving specific examples from real life to support your idea.
8. Come up with a new school fundraiser.
Our school can only hold a limited amount of fundraisers each year. Propose a new one in a letter to the school paper, complete with details about the fundraiser itself and what it would raise money for. Provide plenty of clear reasons why this would be an important fundraiser for our school to support.
9. What is the ideal classroom design?
Classrooms around the world are starting to look very different, and everyone’s got an opinion about what type of learning environment is best. What do you think? Write to me, explaining how you would set up our classroom with a five hundred dollar budget so that it would best suit your learning needs. Be specific in describing the various elements of the classroom and why they would be just right for you.
10. Should young kids be in competitive sports?
The role of sports in kids’ lives has changed a lot in recent years. While kids used to play outside with their friends, you can now find three year olds lining up for soccer practice. Do you think sports deserve all the time and energy they get? Think about your own life and the lives of your friends and take a stand. Is it a good thing that kids’ sports have become so pervasive and competitive? Give specific examples to support your argument.
We’d love to hear—what argumentative writing prompts work in your classroom? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.