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Using evidence in editorials


This is a lesson on researching information and using evidence in writing editorials. Students will gather evidence to help form their opinions for writing their own editorials.


  • Students will look at the original news story that inspired their editorial evidence.
  • Students will ask questions based on that news story.
  • Students will extend their research in order to answer those questions.

Common Core State Standards

CSS.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; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1b 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.


50 minutes


Copies of news stories

Handout: Editorial sources

Slideshow: Fact and opinion

Access to other sources of information, especially about school (handbook, policies)

Internet access, if possible

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Ask students if they watch mystery or crime shows — how do the detectives determine who committed the crime? How do they gather evidence? Do they sometimes make guesses about who is the guilty party? What happens if they ignore evidence that points in different directions?

Explain that while they have opinions in mind, they need to gather evidence to make sure their hunches are right, and must be willing to change their minds based on evidence. If, as they research, they change their mind about their topic, they should discuss that with their editorial group and consider making adjustments.

Present the fact and opinion slideshow. Discuss how to make sure students are using facts to support their opinions.

2) Review news stories — 15 minutes

Have students get out the original news stories that inspired their editorials from the previous lessons. Distribute the editorial sources sheet and have them read through their news stories, looking for facts as evidence for their opinion, or facts that provide evidence against their opinion. Explain facts can sometimes be viewed many ways, so people may disagree on what side the facts belong on.

When students have looked at the facts in the news story, they need to think of questions they have that will help them make their opinions stronger.

3) Research questions — 20 minutes

Give students time to research the answers to their questions and gather more information about their topic. Encourage them to check out school resources and arrange interviews with people who may be affected.

4) Wrap up — 5 minutes

Ask students to share how their research has affected their opinions. One simple method is for students to hold up five fingers if their opinion is much stronger after researching, three if it hasn’t changed, one finger if they are doubting their opinion now and two or four for something in between. Ask for a couple of examples of how the research is going. Remind students that if they have unanswered questions, it will help to talk to the people involved during the next few days.