Common Core Connection: Writing Argumentative Essays on Current Events

By Monica Burns 11.17.2014 blog

The Common Core State Standards outlines expectations for student writers. Teens are asked to write within three text types: narrative, informational and opinion. In the social studies classroom, students are often asked to write essays or research reports that demonstrate their understanding of a topic. These usually fall into the informational writing category. There are ways that students can write in the other text types during content area instruction, including opinion writing.

Argumentative essays help students demonstrate their knowledge of a particular subject. Teens must take a clear position and support their argument with reasons. The expectation is that students will use evidence they have found through research to make their argument valid. Argumentative essays can be written on a variety of topics including current events. Students can focus on a local or global issue in the news, take a stance and write an essay that shows what they have learned.

Choosing a News Story

When assigning an argumentative essay to students, you may ask them to choose a topic that they want to learn more about, or you can assign them a news story to investigate. There are benefits to both of these approaches. Students can explore their interests and passions while activating their background knowledge when they pick the topic themselves. Teens who are asked to study a specific topic can explore something new they may not have taken the time to investigate on their own. If you are looking for more of a compromise, another option is to give students a curated list of topics to choose from so their topic choices are more controlled.

Conducting Research

There are many places students can go to learn more about a current events story as they collect information for an argumentative essay. For example, Channel One News lets users watch videos that cover events in the news. Teens can also click on a tag next to a video or search by typing a keyword into the top of the screen. Depending on the age of your students and the amount of time dedicated to this assignment, you may want to send students to specific resources to view and collect information to include in their essay. Creating a list of quality print and digital resources can help students find information to include as evidence in their argumentative writing piece.

Sharing Student Work

Teens can share their argumentative essays in many different ways. You might decide to have students turn their writing into a pubic service announcement or digital product that incorporates multimedia. They could create their own short video clip where they present the reasons behind their opinion and include images or animation that connects to the argument or stance they have taken. Even if students simply copy and paste their final writing piece into a blog, they now have a shareable link that can be tweeted or posted on a school Facebook page. However you decide to have students share their work, include your plan for addressing a local or global audience in your initial explanation of the task.

Monica Burns is an Education Consultant, EdTech Blogger, and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.


  1. swimmom

    Why is channel one news not working online? My students are very disappointed today.

    • Jamie Hall


      Which part of the site wasn’t working for you today? Let us know and we will definitely take a look at it.

      Channel One News

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