Common Core Spotlight

What’s the Difference Between Argument and Persuasion?
Scope investigates!

How this exciting activity will help your students craft strong arguments and write for a specific audience

If you have dug deeply into the Common Core State Standards for ELA, you may have noticed a gray box on page 24 of Appendix A that makes a distinction between argument and persuasion. It explains that the CCSS “place special emphasis” on writing logical arguments supported by text evidence. This—writing arguments and backing them up with relevant evidence—is of course key to the CCSS; it’s Anchor Standard W1!

But before you banish the word persuasive from your classroom, check out Anchor Standard W4, which requires that “the development, organization, and style [of writing] are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.” In other words, good argument writing is persuasive. It’s all about PURPOSE. Students have to think about why they are writing, and how that should affect what they write. Students must know their audience, engage their reader, and choose arguments based on what they know will be most convincing to that reader.

To cover these skills, look no further than the writing prompt accompanying this issue’s paired texts, “Slave, Warrior, Hero.” We ask students to write a letter to their principal, convincing him or her to allow students to perform a school play about Civil War hero Robert Smalls. To respond, students will need to develop logical arguments and support them with evidence from the texts. They will also need to decide which arguments will be most persuasive to their principal, and they must write in letter format and maintain a formal tone. For scaffolding, use our guided writing activity, which takes students step by step through the process of creating a strong, effective argument.


Your students will:

Common Core ELA Anchor Standards this activity supports:
R1, R2, R3, R4, R9, R10, W1, W4, SL1, SL4, L1, L2, L3, L4, L6

Find additional activity sheets supporting the paired texts on our Quizzes and Activities page.

More Common Core Resources:
To learn how the rest of the January 14, 2013, issue supports the Common Core State Standards, see pages T2–T3 of your Teacher’s Edition, or click here.

To learn more about how Scope aligns with the Common Core and to explore our awesome collection of Common Core resources, click here.

Have a question or a comment about this activity? E-mail Editor Kristin Lewis at

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