Lesson at a Glance

Students analyze a mentor text to see the structure of an editorial. They then begin to organize their own editorials by matching evidence to their supporting arguments.

Note: In this step, you will be entering information into an Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Model this process either on the computer with an LCD projector or on chart paper. Whichever method you choose, be sure that you save your work for use in future lessons.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, speakers
In Class Handouts: 3.1a: Editorial Organizer (packet)
Other Materials: Student folders, writers’ notebooks, opinion statement, notes from Lesson 2.3 and supporting arguments from Lesson 2.4 for the Teacher Model

Limited Tech Options

If there is no access to the technology needed for this lesson, try the following options:

  1. Mini Lesson: Instead of showing the animated program, show students a provocative editorial from a newspaper and discuss how well the writer backs up his or her opinion with specific supporting arguments. Instead of displaying Handout 3.1a electronically, draw the schematic of an editorial on chart paper.


Students will learn the structural elements of a persuasive editorial. Then they will match evidence to their supporting arguments.

Focusing Question

How can you back up your arguments with evidence?

Mini Lesson (20 min)

Show lesson visuals, Back Up Your Supporting Arguments.

Introduce Step 3 by showing the animated program, Plan Your Editorial. Tell students that the purpose of today’s lesson is to help them understand the parts and organization of an editorial so that they can begin to develop a structure for their own pieces, beginning with the arguments that support their opinion statements.

Display the editorial schematic, the first page of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Refer to the mentor text “New Yorkers Deserve More Trains” in the Editorials Packet (Handout 1.1a) or another mentor text from Prof. P’s Office with a clear structure. Read it aloud. Point out and label/highlight the major structural elements of this editorial, including the Introduction, Opinion Statement, Supporting

Arguments, Counterargument and Conclusion. Define “countering” as responding to a different opinion or position.

Distribute Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Explain how the different sections of the organizer
correlate with the structural elements of the mentor text you just analyzed. Indicate that the class will be using this organizer to plan the structure of their own editorials, but you will only focus on two sections (A and B) today. Tell students that Section B of the organizer (Supporting Arguments) will help them plan part of the body of their editorials. Model how you refer to your notes and apply the organizer to structuring the supporting arguments associated with your opinion statement. In this process, model how to label “arguments” in the Possible Use column of your notes.

Then have students use their notes to do the same using the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). This will also be the time to fill in the Possible Use column of their notes.

Teacher Model

  1. Show the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) using a computer and LCD projector or chart paper. Recall and record your topic, audience, and opinion statement in Section A.
  2. Display your notes from Lesson 2.3 and supporting arguments from Lesson 2.4.
  3. Think aloud about your notes and identify which evidence best backs up your supporting arguments.
  4. Begin planning the body of your editorial. Write your first supporting argument in the first box of Section B of the organizer. After writing the argument, transfer/write the accompanying evidence and source information from your notes. In the Possible Use column of your notes,write “argument” next to those pieces of evidence.
  5. Remind yourself of another piece of interesting evidence that you want to save for use in your introduction (or another section) and mark it as “introduction” (or another section) in your notes.
  6. Write a second supporting argument on the organizer.
  7. Display your notes and ask students to help you decide which evidence backs up this supporting argument.
  8. Record this evidence and its related source information in the second box.
  9. Explain how the supporting arguments will become part of the body paragraphs of their editorials, as shown on the schematic.


I’m going to focus on Sections A and B of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) today. In Section A, I can fill in my topic – subway overcrowding, my target audience – NYC subway riders and the New York City Transit Authority, and my opinion statement, NYC Transit should run more subway trains so they are not so overcrowded.

On the Supporting Arguments page, I can write the supporting arguments that I developed during the last lesson. I’m going to look through my notes to see which evidence I want to use to back up my supporting arguments. My first argument is subway overcrowding causes service delays. The evidence I have to support that is that it takes passengers five times longer to get off a crowded train than a less crowded one. I am going to write that in the evidence section of this box and include the source information which is the New York City Transit Study from 2003. As I review my evidence, I am going to keep an eye out for a compelling fact or quote that I can use in my opening paragraph to catch my audience’s attention and write “Introduction” in the Possible Use column next to that piece of research.

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Distribute Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Ask students to:

  1. Write the topic, audience, and opinion statement in Section A.
  2. Write their two supporting arguments in Section B of their organizers.
  3. Refer to their notes to identify which evidence best relates to each of their supporting arguments. Label those items with the word “argument” in the Possible Use column of their notes.
  4. Add the selected evidence to their organizers under the appropriate supporting arguments.
  5. Record the source information.
  6. If time permits, identify other possible uses for each piece of evidence in their notes.

Writer’s Work Time (20 min)

Students work independently to structure two supporting arguments associated with their opinion statements. In doing so, they review their research notes, select evidence that best matches each argument and complete the appropriate sections of Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Circulate among students, consulting with them about the strength of their supporting arguments.

Individual Conferences: Help students match their evidence to their supporting arguments by
guiding them in identifying gaps in logic or key information that might be missing. At this point, some students may need to go back to their notes to use alternative evidence, or conduct additional research to find this information. Remind students to include their source information so that they can find their evidence again later.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Overwhelmed by the Editorial Organizer? Separate the organizer into individual pages, allowing students to plan one component of their editorial at a time.
  2. Struggling to match evidence to supporting arguments? Allow students who have previously been working in a guided writing group to continue to work together. Students can remind each other of the supporting arguments they developed earlier and the evidence that corresponds with each argument. Students can also look at DD and JT’s Notebooks in the Online Classroom to see how they completed the same activity.
  3. Ready for more? Students can add a third supporting argument to their organizers. They may need to do additional research in order to find more evidence. Students may also visit the Study Center for additional activities such as Opinion Space and Persuade Me.

Sharing and Lesson Summary (5 min)

Reconvene the class. Briefly review the key structural elements of a strong editorial. Refer to the Editorial Rubric (Handout 2.1b) and point out how each page of the Editorial Organizer relates to a section of the rubric. Discuss any class trends or common problems you observed during Writer’s Work Time. Let students know that they will be refining their evidence selections during the next lesson.


Review students’ Editorial Organizers (Handout 3.1a) and research notes to ensure that they have copied enough appropriate evidence from their research notes to the organizer. Use the Teacher’s Checklist to keep track of what students have completed at this point.

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