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Using evidence to support opinions


This is a lesson on using evidence to back up the reasons for their main claims in a column. Students will learn about different types of evidence to support their opinions. Then they will outline their columns and begin writing.


  • Students will examine how evidence can support opinions.
  • Students will outline their work and further develop their writing.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1a Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
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.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented. 


50 minutes


Slideshow: Evidence to support claims

Idea diagrams

Column rubric

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 15 minutes

Start with the claim “This room should be four degrees warmer” (or colder, whichever will spark conversation more) and ask students whether they agree or disagree. Then ask them to give evidence for their opinion (“It is 78 degrees in here.” “I had to get a coat out of my locker.”) Discuss the types of evidence people gave and which are more persuasive.

Use the slideshow to present different types of evidence students can use to back up the reasons in their papers.

2. Outline columns — 20 minutes

Distribute copies of idea diagrams (or make copies available online). Demonstrate how to use evidence to back up their reasons to support their claim. Ask students to look through their research and their arguments to outline what evidence they plan to use.

Often students prefer to “just write” than to outline. Stress that students need to organize their paper with their claim first, then a reason with evidence, then another reason with evidence until they are done. It may not hurt to let students find their own way to get organized, but if they start to struggle, it is helpful to pull out the idea diagram and help them break down their ideas into smaller parts.

3. Share in pairs/small groups — 10 minutes

As students begin to finish their outlines, give them a few minutes to share what they are working on with the people around them. Encourage partner sharing as a way they can offer comments on each other’s work.

4. Start writing — start at school, finish at home

Once students have their outlines finished, they can start writing drafts of their columns.