CommonLit 360 An Overview of Argumentative Units in CommonLit 360 for Grades 6-12

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Our argumentative units center student voice and writing with interesting topics and activities that build argument skills and encourage student choice.

Our comprehensive ELA curriculum, CommonLit360, has highly-engaging argumentative units that put the crucial skill of argumentative writing at the forefront of each lesson. These units are designed to capture student interest in a real-world problem, then allow them to form an educated opinion through whole class and independent reading, engaging multimedia and infographics, and student-chosen texts. Student learning culminates in the form of a debate protocol, argumentative essay, and end of unit project.

In this post, I’ll explain how CommonLit 360’s argumentative units do this across grades 6-12.

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Note: If you are just learning about our full-year comprehensive ELA curriculum for grades 6-12 for the first time, you might want to begin by reviewing our Curriculum Overview Guide.

Let’s explore what makes CommonLit 360’s Unit 6s engaging for all grade levels and how they build essential argumentative writing skills.

Sparking Interest With Exciting Topics

Student voice is an essential part of strong instruction and classroom culture. CommonLit 360's argumentative units support student voice through discussion of heavily debated, real-world topics. The topics for CommonLit 360’s argumentative units are designed to be interesting and relevant to students’ lives and to allow for grade-level argument writing and engaging discussion, geared toward strengthening reading comprehension.

Here are the topics and essential questions for each grade:

CommonLit 360’s argumentative units are structured to pique student interest and build knowledge on a topic relevant to students' lives with engaging readings and activities early on. Then, students are encouraged to begin to form their own opinions on the topic by collaboratively exploring different sources such as videos, graphs, and charts and conducting independent research before voicing their own ideas through debate and writing.

A slide from a Related Media exploration that says "Part 1: Why Is Recess Important?"
During each argumentative unit, students work collaboratively to explore a variety of sources that help them build knowledge and form their own opinions about a topic. 

Learning Through Student Choice and Debate

A couple of unique and exciting features of CommonLit 360’s argumentative units are the elements of student choice reading, debate protocols, and optional unit projects.

While all units are anchored in essential readings, in most units students also have an opportunity to choose from a curated set of texts to further their knowledge and gather evidence for their final essays. This offers an excellent opportunity for both student independence and collaborative discussion of different texts and perspectives.

Other units from CommonLit's 360 ELA curriculum encourage partner and class discussion, and in the argumentative units, students have the chance to take part in a formal debate. By assigning students to a side and requiring collaboration amongst teams, these debates teach students to use reasoning and evidence to argue a point and respond to counter arguments. These debates set students up for success in their essay drafting because students leave with strong reasons and evidence for both sides of the argument and can make more informed, persuasive cases in their writing.

Slides from a debate lesson titled "Part 4: Debate Round 1" and "Part 5: Conferring with your group."
Debate lessons include rounds of partner debate and chances for students to confer in like-minded teams to gather evidence and prepare for rebuttal.

Finally, each unit includes an optional end-of-unit project. These projects are an exciting chance for students to collaborate with peers and present arguments in real-world scenarios, such as creating an “elevator-pitch” video for a group of parents on school start times (8th grade), or a proposal for a work of public art in their community (9th grade). These projects encourage student use of technology, demonstrate their argumentative skills, and encourage collaboration with peers.

Sharpening Argumentative Writing Skills

After unit debates, students are ready to begin putting their opinions to paper, and one of the most powerful tools to support student writing is a mentor text. All argumentative units have lessons that guide students through an analysis of a student-written mentor text. Through these lessons, students learn the most important parts of an argumentative essay. Each unit also includes writing lessons to support students in planning their essays.

After a first draft, students then complete revision lessons, which are a quick and exciting way for students to add argumentative techniques to their writing such as: addressing your audience directly, writing effective rhetorical questions, using repetition, or opening with narrative. In these lessons, students examine models and practice their new skills in fun, low-stakes journal prompts such as “Convince a friend to lend you $1,000” or “describe the perfect school lunch” before revising their unit essays.

The practice section of a lesson on revising effective rhetorical questions.
Writing lessons in the argumentative units include multiple opportunities for practice and revision.

CommonLit 360 Unit Hallmarks Included

CommonLit 360’s argumentative units come complete with the essential components found in prior units: robust vocabulary activities, engaging Related Media Explorations, and digitally assignable reading and writing curriculum lessons.

Next Steps

If you are interested in learning more about CommonLit 360, here are some recommended next steps:

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