Lesson at a Glance

Students review their classmates’ responses to Share Your Opinion (from Step 1) as a starting point in determining the “other side’s” position on their topic. Using these data, students identify one argument from the other side that is likely to sway their audience and develop a counterargument supported with evidence.

Note: This lesson may require an additional class period.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, student computers with Internet access
In Class Handouts: Student copies of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a)
Other Materials: Student folders, writers’ notebooks, counterargument 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: If you have a computer/LCD projector, but no student computers, show DD’s Think Aloud: Counter the Other Side during the mini lesson with speakers instead of asking students to watch it during Writer’s Work Time. Continue to work with a model of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1) on chart paper. If your class is unable to access the Online Classroom activity, Share Your Opinion (Step 1), have students share their opinion statements with a partner and solicit a different point of view.
  2. Lesson Summary: Instead of having students post their counterarguments in the Online Classroom, have them share their counterarguments with a partner.


Students will identify one of the “other side’s” possible arguments and develop a persuasive counterargument supported by evidence.

Focusing Question

How can you counter one of the “other side’s” strongest arguments in your editorial?

Mini Lesson (10 min)

Show lesson visuals, Counter the Other Side.

Tell students that the purpose of today’s lesson is to help them finish planning the body of their editorials by addressing the “other side” of their arguments. Reiterate that the purpose of editorial writing is to convince or persuade the reader to agree with the writer’s point of view. Explain that acknowledging the arguments of those who disagree with us (the other side) and countering them strengthens the editorial greatly. Use examples from students’ own lives to illustrate this point, such as two sides to a disagreement they have had with their parents. Remind students that in Step 1 they responded online to their classmates’ opinions on topics that were important to them. In some cases, classmates disagreed with each other. The information collected from classmates will help students understand what the other side’s point of view might be. This can be the basis for planning the rest of the body of their editorials.

Model the process of identifying an opposing view and providing a counterargument by revisiting the opinion statement associated with your editorial. Write a list of arguments that support the other side. (If you posted your opinion statement online, use some of your students’ opposing views in forming this list.) Think about which of the listed arguments is most likely to sway your intended audience to agree with the other side and disagree with you. Demonstrate how to counter the other side’s argument in your editorial by presenting the other side and then giving evidence to prove why your point of view is stronger.

Ask students to follow your lead by selecting a persuasive argument from the other side and developing an effective counterargument that includes evidence.

Teacher Model

  1. Restate your opinion statement.
  2. Think aloud as you decide what the “other side” to your opinion might be. Explain to students that the other side is not necessarily the direct opposite of your opinion. It can be about different solutions to the same problem.
  3. Determine a possible opinion of the other side.
  4. Write a list of arguments that support the other side. (If you posted your opinion online in Step 1, refer to students’ responses in generating your list.)
  5. Choose one argument that would most likely sway your audience to agree with the other side and not with you. Circle that argument.
  6. Model how to add the other side’s argument to the Other Side section (Section C) of the Editorial Organizer. Remind students that the information in Section C will become the remainder of the body of your editorial.
  7. Review your Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) and your notes to see whether you have a piece of evidence to counter the other side’s argument. You may have an appropriate piece of evidence in your notes that you have not added to your organizer. If not, you may choose to use a piece of evidence from one of your supporting arguments and adjust your organizer accordingly.
  8. Model how to add the other side’s argument and the evidence to support your counterargument to the Counterargument section of the Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Check to ensure you have included:
    • A brief summary of the opposing position
    • An explanation of why the other side is wrong
    • Evidence to support your counterargument – a fact, statistic or quotation.


My opinion is that NYC Transit needs to run more subway trains so that they are not so overcrowded. When I was doing my research, I saw that a lot of people disagree with me. They made arguments like:

  1. The trains are not actually overcrowded.
  2. Overcrowding is a nuisance, but not a serious problem.
  3. Adding more trains will cost a lot of money and subway fares will go up.

My target audience is the people who manage the subway. I think they are business people who are going to be best persuaded by an argument that involves money. So I am going to try to counter the argument about fares going up.

Looking through my evidence I see a fact that says New York has fewer trains running than other
major cities like Paris, London and Tokyo, but that New Yorkers pay higher fares than the people in those other cities. That means that other cities are giving better service for lower fares. So, more trains should not necessarily mean higher fares. I am going to add that to my Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) along with the source where I found it.

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Ask students to:

  1. Go to the Online Classroom and watch DD’s Think Aloud: Counter the Other Side.
  2. Determine what the “other side” to their editorial opinion is. Record it in their writers’ notebooks.
  3. Think about and make a list of the arguments they came across in their research that support the other side.
  4. Decide and circle which one of these arguments is most likely to persuade their intended audience to agree with the other side.
  5. Review their notes and their completed Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a) to choose a piece of evidence to counter the other side’s argument.
  6. Write the other side’s argument in Section C of the organizer.
  7. Write the counterargument in Section C of the organizer.
  8. Add evidence to back up their counterargument.
  9. Check that their organizers include the following information for The Other Side (Section C):
    • A brief summary of the opposing position
    • An explanation of why the other side is wrong
    • Evidence to support your counterargument – a fact, statistic or quotation.

Writer’s Work Time (25 min)

Students work individually to identify the other side’s arguments and find evidence to support their counterarguments. Students add this information to Section C of their Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a). Circulate among the students, encouraging and prompting them to identify the other side of their topics and develop well-supported counterarguments. Look for effective examples of student work that you can share at the end of the lesson.

Individual Conferences: Emphasize the importance of selecting arguments that best represent the other side. Students may find that they do not have such arguments written down, but that they encountered examples of them in their research. Allow students to use what they recall or to research the other side’s position.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Difficulty developing the other side? Encourage students who have difficulty developing the other side to work with a peer. Partners can help each other identify possible arguments from the other side.
  2. Struggling to complete the Organizer? Form a guided writing group in which students can help one another understand the opposing positions on their issues. 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? Encourage students to search for additional facts, statistics, or quotations from a source and add that information to their Editorial Organizer (Handout 3.1a), wherever it fits best. Students may also visit the Study Center for additional activities such as Opinion Space and Persuade Me.

Sharing and Lesson Summary (10 min)

Reconvene the class. Ask students to go to Step 3 of the Online Classroom and post the other side’s argument and their counterargument in the activity titled, Share Your Counterargument. Students should type their topic in the subject line and the other side’s argument and their counterargument in the body of the post. If time allows, students may comment on each other’s posts and make suggestions on how to be more persuasive.


Review students’ Editorial Organizers (Handout 3.1a). Check whether students have completed enough research to write their editorials and whether or not they have a solid understanding of their opinion and the other side of the argument. If it becomes apparent that some students require additional research to find the necessary evidence for this part of the editorial, this would be the time to provide this opportunity. Use the Teacher’s Checklist to identify what students have completed to this point.

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