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Ana Redstone
Journalism teacher
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Writing point-counterpoint articles for the editorial page




Writing point-counterpoint articles for the editorial page

Ana Redstone of Open Campus High School in Virginia Beach, Va.

Ana Redstone
Open Campus High School
Virginia Beach, Va

Title: Writing point-counterpoint articles for the editorial page.

Goal: Students will use persuasive writing and speaking skills they have learned in English classes to develop point-counterpoint articles for the editorial page of the school newspaper.

Time frame: Two 90 minute block classes.

Goals:

  • To understand the opinion function of a newspaper and the various ways in which it is expressed.
  • To develop a focus for writing and formulate an opinion.
  • To organize evidence to support a position.
  • To present evidence clearly and convincingly,
  • To support and defend ideas and thoughts.

Virginia SOLs:

  • J.1- The student will demonstrate proficiency in a variety of journalistic writing.
  • J.15 The student will demonstrate or explain how journalism assignments have required the use of skills he/she has learned in other classes.

Lesson objective:

Students will score a 3 or 4 on a 4-point rubric for writing a paragraph on a controversial topic in 1 out of 2 attempts.

Resources:

  • Pen and paper
  • Journalism Today, 6th edition

Instructional Procedures:

Day One

  • Initial activity: Ask students to raise their hand if they usually win arguments and tell them that today we will see how well they do when facing off with an opponent.
  • Ask students to draw a horizontal line on their paper with an arrow at each end and have them label “yes” at one end and “no” at the other end.
  • Present a controversial topic to the class and ask students to mark an X on the line on their paper that represents their opinion on the topic. (For example: All schools should become year-round schools. If they agree, they draw an X on the “yes” end of their line and if they disagree, they draw an X on the “no” end of the line. If they are undecided, they should draw an X somewhere in the middle of the line.)
  • Next students should write down three reasons for their opinion.
  • Students should then move into opposite sides of the room, grouped into “yes” and “no” opinions where they share and add to their list of supporting points. Those who were undecided visit both sides of the room to hear both sides of the argument and then Select one side to join.
  • When students are finished with their lists, they return to their seats.
  • Explain to the students that point-counterpoint writing for the editorial page is like persuasive writing and speaking that they learned in their English classes and should address opposing arguments.
  • Ask several volunteers from each side to come to the front of the class to face off to refute opposing points. A student from one side offers a point in support of his position and a student from the other side refutes the point and then offers a supporting reason for his side. This should go back and forth until all volunteers have come forward to offer their opinions.
  • Closing activity: students write a paragraph expressing their opinion on this issue, using the arguments developed in class. They should include a main idea, supporting points, argument that refute the opposing opinion, and a conclusion that explains the bottom line or why the issue is important.

Day Two

  • Initial activity: Review and discuss the activities from the previous class and the thought process behind developing a logically-organized opinion paragraph.
  • Present another controversial topic to the class.
  • Have them individually develop arguments for their opinion and arguments to refute an opposing opinion.
  • Students should write another paragraph expressing their opinion on this issue, using the arguments they have developed. They should include a main idea, supporting points, argument that refute the opposing opinion, and a conclusion that explains the bottom line or why the issue is important.
  • Hand out the paragraphs from the previous class. Students may revise their paragraph from the previous class and from today’s activity.
  • Closing activity: students Select the paragraph they want to turn in for a grade and place the other in their works-in-progress folders.

Assessment:

  • Students are graded on a 1-4 rubric on the paragraph they submit. The top score of 4 indicates that the student has included a main idea, supporting points, an argument that refutes an opposing opinion, and a conclusion in a logically organized manner.
  • Several paragraphs from each side of the issue may be Selected to use as point-counterpoint articles for the school newspaper.


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