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Developing problem-solution counterarguments


In this lesson, which comes after students have conducted research for a problem-solution structured editorial/column, students will use a template to think through the most likely counterarguments.


  • Students will write for real situations in order to justify a position.
  • Students will analyze the effectiveness of their arguments.
  • Students will conduct research in order to solve a problem.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.B Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values and possible biases.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.


65 minutes


Handout: Developing problem-solution counterarguments (chart)
Editorial: Poll results disappoint (class set or digital access)
Editorial: Support needed for students’ rights (class set or digital access)

Lesson step-by-step

Note: This lesson would come after students have conducted research for their editorial/column (in the sequence it would come after Brainstorming Column Ideas). The lesson provides a structured way of thinking through possible counterarguments related to problem-solution topics, which comprise a majority of editorial topics and many column topics.

1. Small group sharing — 5 minutes

Divide students into groups, and invite students to share their research, including what they have accomplished and what they plan to continue researching. Circulate the classroom to get a sense of who has conducted good research and understands his/her topic and who is still struggling and will need additional help.

2. Independent work — 30 minutes

Distribute Developing Problem-Solution Counterarguments charts (or, if possible, provide a digital copy for students to complete). Together, discuss the sample completed chart. Assign students to fill in the chart individually for the editorial/column they have been researching.

3. Pair share — 10 minutes

After students have completed their charts, pair them with another student to offer suggestions and specific praise.

For homework, students will conduct necessary additional research and revise chart responses.

4. Reading for meaning — 20 minutes

Next, have students read one of the two editorials and mark the text according to the directions. Students will discuss the editorial in groups, answer the questions and share their answers with the class.

5. Assessment

Students will continue work toward their editorial/column, which may be evaluated with the rubric provided in the Evaluating Editorials With a Rubric lesson. Teachers who need a daily grade may collect the completed charts or ask students to complete an exit ticket response such as “Why is a counter argument important to an editorial?” as another way to check for understanding at the end of the lesson.



One layer of differentiation should be in place when students select their topic at the start of the research stage; struggling students should be steered toward more straight-forward editorial/column topics.

Still, there may be students who are unprepared for this lesson because they have conducted inadequate research and don’t know enough about their subject to complete the chart. If this is the case, conference with students during the individual work time to help them get back on track. If there are several people in this situation, they can be assigned to complete classwork as homework, using shared Google documents to provide feedback.

When it is time to critique the two editorials, struggling students can be given the less complex editorial: “Poll results disappoint.” The other editorial, “Support needed for students’ rights,” is significantly longer and a bit more complex.