Argument Writing in Social Studies

Social Studies teachers routinely use both primary and secondary sources to have our students analyze historic events or perspectives.  Our students continue to write arguments to support claims through the use of clear reasons and relevant evidence. With the CCSS, they will also have to acknowledge alternate or opposing claims.

Throughout this year, my seventh and eighth graders have struggled with acknowledging the opposing claims. As we’ve practiced, I’ve tried to make sure the sources I’m using are specific, well-defined, and give students distinct arguments to choose from.

There are several great websites that have resources for CCSS & Social Studies; some specifically target Argument Writing.

The Library of Congress website allows teachers to search for lessons and primary sources by standard: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/

As an example, I searched for Grade 7 Language Arts, and focused on the Argument Writing piece, and these were my results: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/standards/materials.php?standards=common&gr=7&iStandardId=b07474eb-c38c-4b9a-afff-525b5107866f&st=CCK12&su=Language+Arts

The Gilder Lehrman Institute presents several lessons aligned to CCSS. Educators can register for a free membership to access the lessons. The primary sources offered on the site are easily adaptable for an argument piece: http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/literature-and-language-arts/resources/teaching-literacy-through-history-units-and-le

History Blueprint, a site connected to the California History-Social Science Project, includes a blog with several ideas about primary sources. One example focuses on Abraham Lincoln’s changing viewpoints: http://blueprintforhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/history-and-the-common-core-writing-standards/

There is so much reading, writing, and analyzing that happens in Social Studies classes, it is easy to make connections between the RI Social Studies GSE’s and CCSS- especially with argument writing. From the completion of DBQ’s (Document-Based-Questions) to the examination of stand-alone primary sources, we participate in each step of Argument Writing. A speaker at a conference I attended called Social Studies a “Language Arts Enhancer”- and as our goals and expectations for our students become more connected, I think our students will be even more successful than they already are.

-Valerie Carnevale

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