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How to Write an Argumentative Essay

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Diana Madrigal

on 2 December 2013

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Transcript of How to Write an Argumentative Essay

How to Write an Argumentative Essay
What are the parts of an argumentative essay?
Let’s take a look at an argumentative essay written by an 8th grade student. We will use this essay to figure out what you ALWAYS need to include in an argumentative essay.

Take 5 MINUTES to silently read this essay.


Summer: 15 Days or 2 1/2 Months?

The final bell rings. It’s the last day of school, and summer has finally come! Students don’t have to think about school for at least another 2 1/2 months. That is the way it should always be. Schools should continue using the traditional calendar and not a year-round schedule. There are numerous downsides to year-round schooling. It has no positive effects on education, it adds to costs, and it disrupts the long-awaited summer vacation.

Contrary to the well-accepted belief, year-round schooling has no constructive impact on education. Most year-round schedules use the 45-15 method: 45 days of school followed by 15 days off. Because of this, there are many first and last days of school. All those transitions disrupt the learning process. Also, there is no evidence of higher test scores. Due to that, many schools that change to year-round schedules end up switching back. For example, since 1980, 95 percent of schools that tried the year-round schedule changed back to a traditional calendar. It is obvious that changing to year-round schooling does not help students; therefore, why is the change necessary?

Like any other facility, keeping a school open requires a great deal of money. When a school changes to a year-round schedule, the costs skyrocket. Keeping school open in the middle of summer requires air conditioning, and that adds significantly to the school’s expenses. The usual utility bills grow because of the additional open-school time. Finally, teachers must be paid for all the weeks they are working. With all these factors, the cost of keeping schools open becomes immensely high. For example, a high school in Arizona had a cost increase of $157,000 when they switched to year-round schooling. Some schools may not be able to handle such increases, and other schools that can handle these expenses could be doing better things with the money. Is year-round school really where the money should go?

An important part of a child’s life is summertime. With year-round schedules, students would hardly have any time to relax. During the 15-day breaks, they would be thinking about their quick return to school. It would also be difficult to coordinate family vacations with parents’ work schedules. Similarly, children would not be able to go to most summer camps. One expert, Dr. Peter Scales, says, “The biggest plus of camp is that camps help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values. Most schools don’t satisfy all these needs. Kids who have these kinds of [camp] experiences end up being healthier and have fewer problems.” Obviously, the summer is crucial to a child’s learning and development. Why should this invaluable part of a young person’s life be taken away?

It is evident that year-round schooling is not the best option for the school calendar. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional school year. Why change something that works so well? After all, there is no evidence that shows that a year-round schedule produces higher test scores while there is evidence to show that schools' costs increase under the year-round schedule. Furthermore, summers are an important time for students to grow and explore their talents. The final bell rings. Let’s make sure this bell means that the “real” summer vacation has come.
Let’s start with the title and introduction paragraph.

What do you notice about the title?
Catchy
Relates to the topic of the essay

What specific things do you see in the introduction?
Hook:
A few sentences that grab the reader's attention and introduce the topic of the essay.
Claim:
One sentence that explains the author's argument.
Preview of Evidence:
1-2 sentences that introduce the evidence that the reader will use to defend their claim.
Title and Introduction Paragraph
Body Paragraphs
Now let’s analyze the body paragraphs.

What does the author include in the body paragraphs?

1 piece of evidence per paragraph

Each piece of evidence strongly defends the claim

Facts and Statistics:
The evidence is not based on feelings or opinions. The evidence comes from articles, studies, and reports. This makes the argument much stronger.

Questions:
Notice that each body paragraph ends with with a question. The questions are written so that the reader cannot possibly disagree with the author. Therefore, the author always seems "right" and his/her argument seems stronger and more convincing.
Conclusion
Finally, let's look at the conclusion paragraph.

What specific things does the author include in the conclusion?

Restates the Thesis:
The author reminds the reader one final time what their claim is.

Restates the Evidence:
The author reminds the reader of the evidence they used to support their claim. This should be done in 1-2 sentences maximum.

Concludes the Paragraph:
The author has 1-2 sentences that nicely end the paragraph. The paragraph should NOT end suddenly; it must have a finishing thought.
What's Missing From this Essay?
This essay needs a
counter-claim
. This would be an extra
paragraph where the author talks about an argument that goes against their own claim, but then proves why this counter-claim is actually wrong.

Including a counter-claim makes your argument much stronger IF you can show why the counter-claim is wrong.
Example of a Counter-claim Paragraph
CLAIM: Traditional school schedules are better than year-round school schedules.

Some people may argue that schools are over-crowded and that year-round schools help this problem. It may be true that year-round schools help the problem of over-crowding, but they do not fix the problem completely. If over-crowding is a serious problem, then the right solution would be to build more schools and hire more teachers not force students to go to school year-round.
Your Argumentative Writing Topic
As I mentioned already, you are writing about Hot Cheetos. Here is the prompt that your essay must respond to:

There have been several health studies over the past few years that show that Hot Cheetos are unhealthy and harmful when eaten in large quantities. Further studies show that young children and teenagers eat as many as 20-30 full size bags of Hot Cheetos a month. Eating such a large amount of Hot Cheetos is leading to health problems such as ulcers, gastritis, and even causing some children to go to the emergency room for stomach pains.

The federal government is now considering a ban on the sale of Hot Cheetos and other spicy snacks to minors (people under the age of 18). This means that anyone under the age of 18 would not be allowed to buy Hot Cheetos. Research this topic and create a claim either for or against the ban.

Your essay must include your claim, supporting evidence, a counter-claim, and a conclusion. Your essay must be at least 5 paragraphs.
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