Common Core Spotlight

An Argument-Writing Activity Hits Three Key Standards

We know that during test-prep season it’s important to find engaging activities that will reinforce multiple skills. That’s why we’re so excited about this issue’s Readers Theater Play, The Secret Soldier. It’s based on the incredible true story of Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man so she could fight in the American Revolution. After students read the play, they’ll tackle our one-page debate, “Should Women Be Allowed to Fight in Wars?”, which presents arguments for and against women in combat today. Your students will then trace each author’s argument, using our handy activity sheet. As a culminating activity, students will write their own argument essays about women in combat—but from Deborah’s point of view.

Here’s why we love this activity: It combines several skills demanded by the Common Core: building strong arguments (W1), writing to task, purpose, and audience (W4), and acquiring domain-specific vocabulary (L6)—the debate is packed with military terms. The activity is challenging but short enough to do in one period (perfect for this busy test-prep season!). And the topic is sure to foster some very interesting and topical discussions in your classroom.

Your students will:

  • read aloud this issue’s historical-fiction play, The Secret Soldier, and the debate on page 19
  • consult our military terms glossary to interpret the challenging domain-specific vocabulary in the debate
  • analyze the debate with our activity sheet on identifying persuasive strategies, “Building an Argument”
  • use the persuasive strategies identified in the debate and text evidence from the play to respond to the writing prompt on page 19, which asks them to write an argument essay

Common Core ELA Anchor Standards this activity supports:
R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R8, R9, W1, W4, W9, SL1, SL4, L1, L2, 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 March 11, 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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