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Writing the Argument Essay

How to write an interesting, meaty, meaningful argument essay
by

Tara Estes

on 6 October 2015

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Transcript of Writing the Argument Essay

Steps to Success
The introduction will accomplish these tasks:
Catch the reader's attention
Give background information on the issue
Include the thesis statement (claim)
Body Paragraphs
Conclusion
Each body paragraph will address one reason or idea
Each reason needs to be supported by evidence that is AAA and avoids faulty reasoning
Each body paragraph will also need:
Topic sentences that explain the main ideas
Appropriate transitions to create flow
Quotations from the text to support your evidence
A conclusion should leave readers with a strong final impression!
Writing an Argument Essay
1. Start with your issue:
Look over your notes and ask yourself questions
What do you
agree with
?
What makes sense as
logical
to you based on
what you already knew about the topic
?
What information can you throw out as
faulty
or
inadequate
or simply
opinionated
?
Building a Thesis
Introduction
Building a Thesis
2. Form your
opinion
:
Based on your answers, decide from which side you will write your issue
Write down your opinion, this is the framework for your thesis statement.

Building a Thesis
Wait!
Your opinion is only the skeleton of your thesis statement!
Let's flesh it out a bit!
Going back to your notes, write down the reasons that support your opinion
(Remember that your reasons will need to be
supported by evidence
, so throw out reasons that you cannot support!)
From your list, pick
at least three
that you will be able to prove with evidence.
You should!!
Building a Thesis
Building a Thesis
Avoid writing thesis statements like:
My paper will be about why school uniforms are a good idea.
I am writing about the issue of school uniforms and why they are necessary.
I think we should have school uniforms.

Instead, just cut out the unnecessary parts:
School uniforms are a good idea.
School uniforms are necessary.
We should have school uniforms.
Building a Thesis
Remember that your thesis is going to tell the reader exactly what they're getting ready to read about without producing an essay map!


Example:
I think we should have school uniforms

Reasons:
Decrease in bullying and disciplinary problems
Increased focus on school work
Cost efficient

Example:
School uniforms are a good idea because they are the basis of a student's academic success.
Catching the Reader's Attention
There are many techniques writers use to catch the reader's attention. When picking a technique keep in mind what will be effective on your audience:
Make a surprising statement
"At Howard High School, the number of referrals dropped by 70% after school uniforms were made a requirement."
Provide a description
"Imagine a school with quiet hallways and classrooms full of happy students fully engaged in their learning instead of focusing on what all of their friends are wearing."
Catching the Reader's Attention
Ask a question
"What could possibly be the cost of requiring school uniforms?"
Relate a brief story
"I once attended a school that required uniforms. I didn't have to worry about what I would wear the next day, or what my friends would think of my clothes. It left me with more time to think about my schoolwork and my hobbies.
Include an interesting quote from the text
""Public schools that require uniforms are considered by many in the field of education as the oases of public schools" (Smith 2).
Background Information
Pretend your reader has no idea what your issue is about. Describing your issue should try to answer some of the 5Ws and 1H:
Who?
What?
When?
Where?
Why?
How?
Put it all together!!
Start with your attention-getter
Order your description and thesis in a way that makes sense and reads smoothly.
Details to be included in the introductory paragraph
AAA Evidence
AAA means
Accurate
,
Adequate
, and
Appropriate
Accurate
means making sure your evidence was recorded from the text exactly as it appeared in the text
Adequate
means you have provided enough evidence to fully support your reason (one or two pieces of evidence will never be enough!)
Appropriate
means it makes sense to explain your reason and isn't just random nonsense
(avoid faulty reasoning!)
Types of Faulty Reasoning
Either/or fallacy
: Falsely assumes there are only two available choices
Either we get school uniforms or the school will fall into chaos
Oversimplification
: Explaining something complicated in a way that is too simple
All it takes for schools to implement uniforms is for the principal to send parents a letter telling them to purchase uniforms.
Overgeneralization
: Making a statement that is too broad. Uses words like all, always, never, no one, none, everyone, every time
All teachers want students in uniforms.
Types of Faulty Reasoning
Hasty generalization
: A reason is formed with too little evidence or from evidence that is clearly biased
School uniforms are good for students because students like them.
Non sequitur
: A reason is formed from proof that doesn't make sense
We need school uniforms because most students' regular clothes are not blue enough.
Topic Sentences
All writers use main ideas/topic sentences to organize their writing.
Your topic sentences will tell the reader what reason each body paragraph will explain with evidence
Be sure that you only talk about the reason you gave in your topic sentence to avoid confusing your reader.
Non-sequitur it doesn't follow
Types of Support
A quick review
Paragraph Structure
If you are unsure of how to present your information in your paragraph, try
T
E
E
S
:
T
- Topic Sentence
E
- Evidence
E
- Explanation of evidence
S
- Summarize

*Your "
T
E
E
S
" may end up looking like "
T
E
E
E
E
E
E
S
" because you will

want to have at least three pieces of evidence!
Example:

T
- Most importantly, uniforms are cost effective for parents when it comes to buying students new school clothes.
E
- "In a recent survey of middle school parents, 86% say they spend too much money on new clothes for their children" (Clarke 1).
E
- With students expecting to wear brand name clothes like Adidas apparel and North Face jackets in order to look trendy, parents usually end up paying outrageous prices for a simple t-shirt and jeans outfit combination. Multiply this by five days a week and parents are looking to spend upwards of $500 on only a few outfits.
E
- However, most public school uniforms are made up of unlabeled polo shirts and khakis.
E
- In the requirements for the uniforms, it's usually stated that the shirts and pants must not carry a logo. For the most part, the logo is often what makes the clothing so expensive. Also, because of the strictness of the requirements, it's often better just to go for the cheaper alternative to the name brands to avoid having to really search for that one special polo without a logo on it.
E
- Finally, schools will typically work with local businesses to offer a special discount on uniforms.
E
- Khakis and polo shirts aren't very expensive to begin with, and the school being able to add a discount or special deal on top of that makes uniforms affordable for even the parents who never buy their children name brand clothes. Sometimes schools will even purchase uniforms for families who can't afford any new clothes at all or typically give their children hand-me-downs at the beginning of the school year.
S
- With the cost of uniforms being cheaper than any of the name brand clothes that students crave, there's no reason for parents to disagree with the cost efficiency of school uniforms. Even parents who can't afford new clothes can benefit from uniforms because the school would buy uniforms for them.
Statistics

Numbers
Expert opinions
Specialists
Analogies
Comparing two similar things
Correlations
One thing happens at the same time as another
Specific examples
Observations
Primary source (YOU saw it with your own eyes)
Anecdotes
Short story
Quotations from the text
"Make sure you put them in this format" (Walker 12).
Transitions
Transitions are words that connect your ideas and show how they relate to each other.
Let's look at that example paragraph again

Did you notice that I highlighted the transitions??
Types of Transitions
Time or Sequence:
Words like first, second, always, then, next, later, soon, before, finally, after, earlier, afterward, and tomorrow.
Degree of importance:
Words like mainly, strongest, weakest, first, second, most important, least important, worst, and best.
Compare:
Words like similarly, likewise, also, like, as, neither... nor, and either... or.
Types of Transitions
Contrast:
Words like yet, but, unlike, instead, whereas, and while.
Cause-effect:
Words like since, because, thus, therefore, so, due to, for this reason, and as a result.
Spatial order
(you will probably not use this):
Words like in front, behind, next to, along, nearest, lowest, above, below, underneath, on the left, and in the middle.
Quotes from the Text
Like with the informative essay, you will need quotations/citations in your paper!!
"Every good boy does fine" (Mozart 4).
copy word-for-word from the text
Author's last name
page number


*Limit use of direct quotations as evidence
Let's Summarize!
Body paragraphs should be TEES
T - Topic Sentence
E - Evidence
E - Explanation for Evidence
S - Summary of reason
Evidence needs to be AAA
Transitions join ideas and paragraphs
Quotations from the text can be evidence or part of your explanation
An argument conclusion needs to include:
A restatement of the thesis
A brief summary of the argument and its reasons (2-3 sentences)
Opposing viewpoint
Counterargument
Call to action
Restating your Argument
Reword your thesis and repeat it in the conclusion.
To summarize your body paragraphs, it may be easier to just reword your topic sentences.
Opposing viewpoint and Counterargument
Remember that the opposing viewpoint is going to be the opposite of your opinion.

Find the strongest piece of evidence from the other side that you can counterargue
Example:

Opposing Viewpoint
: Naysayers of uniforms point out that in many cases, enrollment dropped as much as 20% after implementing uniforms.

Counterargument
: However, at the public school level, the case of enrollment is unimportant because schools receive funding based on the percent of students who meet state standards and not the actual numbers. Also, a lower enrollment means less students for every teacher, which means each student gets more individualized attention.
Call to Action
This answers the question, "What next?"
It's often your solution to the issue.
A few examples:
Prediction
: I predict in a few years every school will be requiring uniforms for the sake of positive student learning.
Question
: After seeing time and again the amount of proof in support of uniforms, how can anyone deny that they would be great for our students?
Recommendation
: I recommend contacting your district's superintendent about uniforms, or bring it up at the next school board meeting, to get people thinking about uniforms!
Quote
:
(Be careful with this one. If you pick a quote, make sure it fits and is powerful enough to stand on its own at the very end of your paper.)
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