How to Analyze An Argument


Use this 4 step process to teach your middle school students how to analyze argumentative text before they begin to write argumentative essays!

Soon, my middle school students will be learning about writing argumentative essays.  In order to be prepared to do so, we must first learn how to analyze an argument in a text.  There are a few steps I always follow:

1.  Read and mark the text.

Part of this is helping students t understand the difference between "pro" and "con".

Many students get confused with this concept because they forget that it's the writer's reasons for or against something and not their own.

To help them keep it straight, we use a T-Chart.  The pro information goes on the left - which is also labeled reasons the author is "for" whatever the text is about.  The cons go on the right - which is also labeled what the author is "against".

As we read the text, we are sure to keep our pro and con facts clear by putting the text and paragraph numbers under the correct column.

2.  Identify the argument

An argumentative text is designed to get the reader to think a certain way and take a side.  It is critical for students to understand this and then be able to recognize:

a.  what the two sides are

b.  what side the author is on

3.  Locate supporting details.

Once the students have established what the argument is and what side the author is on, students should locate facts from the article that back up this position.

4.  Evaluate for objectivity.

The text may be persuasive but should be devoid of opinions in order to be valid.  So the last step in analyzing argumentative text is to determine if the argument is based on facts or opinions. 

If it based on facts, then the argument is valid. If it based on opinions, then the argument is invalid.  

Sounds simple enough, but this may be easier said than done. I outline my entire unit in this post and also offer it as a printable resource that walks students through determining and argument as well as evaluating it with scaffolded notes, practice activities, an assessment and more in this unit:

Struggling to find an interactive way to teach your middle school students how to analyze and evaluate argumentative text? Save tons of time with this easy-to-use unit that comes with everything the teacher needs to Teach, Reteach & Enrich based on R.CCR.8/RI.8 and is fully differentiated, project-based, and engaging! Comes with editable lesson plans!

This always sets my students up for success before we begin writing our argumentative essays.  Now they know how to tackle the text before they begin to write about it.  I hope this helps your students too!

Get a free copy of my analyzing arguments digital anchor chart with all my other reading standards anchor charts by clicking here!

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