Lesson at a Glance

Students learn that including different types of evidence such as facts, quotations, statistics and examples helps make an editorial more persuasive. Students then identify potential sources of evidence for their editorials.

(1) Students who are skilled at Internet research may be ready to begin note-taking during this
lesson. Initiate this process with a midworkshop interruption. If you anticipate introducing notetaking during the lesson, refer to Lesson 2.3 and have copies of Record Your Notes (Handout 2.3a) available.

(2) If the technology in your school is adequate, have students collect the names and URLs of sites they are researching in a word processing document which can be uploaded to the Online Classroom, saved locally or printed and attached to their notebooks. By eliminating the errors that commonly come with handwriting web addresses, research can be more efficient.

Prep & Tech

Technology: LCD projector, laptop, Internet access or Writing Editorials CD, student computers with Internet access
Differentiated Instruction Handout: 2.2a: Evidence Plan
Other Materials: Student folders, writers’ notebooks, chart paper, possible Internet sources for researching your topic

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 introductory animation, show students a provocative editorial from a newspaper and discuss how well the writer backs up his or her opinion with specific supporting arguments.
  2. Writer’s Work Time: Use print materials such as books, magazines and newspapers instead of performing research on the Internet.


Students will identify types and potential sources of evidence that best support the opinions they planto express in their editorials.

Focusing Question

How and where can you find evidence to make your editorials more persuasive?

Mini Lesson (15 min)

Show lesson visuals, Search for Persuasive Evidence.

Explain that in today’s lesson, students will learn the types of evidence that editorial writers use to support their opinions and where to find them. Remind students of the persuasive nature of editorial writing. Describe the types of evidence writers typically include, such as expert quotations and opinions, facts, laws, statistics, examples, stories, and anecdotes. Make a list of these on a Types of Evidence class chart. Explain that not all editorials include all types of evidence. Authors of editorials choose evidence that is appropriate for their piece and that will be most persuasive to their audience.

Model how to plan research for evidence by considering the types of evidence your editorial might
have. Refer to the Types of Evidence chart to guide your selection. Discuss the importance of
developing a few keywords to facilitate a successful online search for evidence to support your opinion. Then demonstrate how you search for one piece of evidence.

Have students turn and talk briefly to a classmate about the types of evidence they are seeking and possible keywords that will yield this information. The outcome of this discussion should be one or two terms that are likely to uncover specific types of evidence. Students then add/jot down a list of keywords in their notebooks. They then search independently for evidence to support their opinions.

Teacher Model

  1. Restate your editorial topic and your opinion.
  2. Plan your research by thinking aloud about the types of evidence you might use in your editorial by asking yourself:
    1. What kinds of facts and statistics might I need? Where might I find them?
    2. What personal stories might help communicate my opinion to my audience? Should I use my personal experience or should I use other people’s anecdotes?
    3. What kinds of people are experts on this topic? Where might I find their quotations and opinions?
  3. Create a Types of Evidence chart including facts, statistics, personal stories, quotations, laws, anecdotes, etc.
  4. Demonstrate coming up with a few clear keywords that describe your topic and will help uncover the type of evidence you are seeking. For example, to find personal stories related to the topic of subway overcrowding, you may use the keywords “subway rider opinions.”
  5. Using a computer with an LCD projector, begin to perform a search using your keywords and follow a link that seems relevant.
  6. Open a word processing document, copy and paste one of your URLs into it, include the website name, and save the document.


My editorial topic is subway overcrowding. The question I’m asking is: Should NYC Transit run moretrains so that the subway is not so overcrowded? My opinion is: Yes, NYC Transit should run moretrains.

To begin my research, I need to identify what search terms will lead to the most helpful websites. I am going to list the different types of evidence I am seeking and think about where I can find them.

Facts and Statistics-

I am going to need some facts and statistics about just how overcrowded the subway is. How many people fit comfortably on a subway car? How many are actually on the average subway car? How many people take the subway every day?

I can get some of this information by doing some Internet searches using terms like “subway
overcrowding,” “average number of riders,” ”subway capacity,” etc.

Quotations and Personal Stories-

I want to get the perspectives of people who ride crowded subways all the time. How does it feel to be a “straphanger?” Why do you take the subway anyway?

Lots of people I know have subway horror stories, plus I’ve got my own personal stories I can tell. I also want some expert opinions, maybe someone from NYC Transit or someone who works for subway rider’s rights. I could use the term, “subway rider opinions.” I really want to persuade my audience that my opinion is correct. The more evidence I find, the more persuasive my editorial will be.

Preparing for Writer’s Work Time

Ask students to plan their research by:

  1. Reviewing their editorial topics with a classmate.
  2. Writing the Types of Evidence chart in their notebooks.
  3. Thinking about the types of evidence they may want to use in their editorials by asking themselves the following questions:
    1. What kinds of facts and statistics might I need? Where might I find them?
    2. What personal stories might help communicate my opinion to my audience? Should I use my personal experience or should I use other people’s anecdotes?
    3. What kinds of people are experts on this topic? What will help me find their quotations and opinions?
  4. Brainstorming keywords that connect their topics to the types of evidence they would like to find.
  5. Jotting possible terms in their writers’ notebooks.
  6. Searching independently online for evidence to support their opinion and persuade their audience.
  7. (If there is easy access to technology in your room) Recording the URLs that contain useful evidence in a word processing document by opening a new document, writing the website names, pasting in the URLs, and saving the document.

Writer’s Work Time (20 min)

With a classmate, students brainstorm possible keywords that relate to both their topics and the kinds of evidence they plan to include in their editorials. They then perform online research to find facts, statistics, personal stories, etc that will be persuasive to their audience. Students either write the URLs in their notebooks or copy and paste URLs from useful sites into a word processing document. Circulate, prompting students to use search terms that most closely match the evidence they would like to gather. Look for students who have creative ideas about the types of evidence that will be helpful and how to find that evidence.

Individual conferences: Talk to students about the kinds of evidence that will support their opinions. Provide them with general keywords to help with locating different points of view such as “perspective” or “response.” In addition, point out specific phrases that appear on useful sites so that they can reuse those terms in their next search.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  1. Difficulty using the writer’s notebook? Distribute Evidence Plan (Handout 2.2a). Students can use the handout to help identify possible sources for facts, statistics, etc. to be included in their editorials. Students can look at DD and JT’s Notebooks in the Online Classroom to see how they completed the same activity.
  2. Struggling to identify potential sources? Form a guided group in which struggling writers help each other assess what information they will need for their editorials. Students can help each other complete Evidence Plan (Handout 2.2a).
  3. Ready for more? Have students start reading through some of the sites they found to confirm that information they need is contained within. Distribute and explain Record Your Notes (Handout 2.3a) to students so they may begin the note-taking process. Students may also visit the Study Center for additional activities such as Persuade Me or What’s the Message?

Sharing and Lesson Summary (10 min)

Reconvene the class. Ask students to share what types of evidence were relatively easy to find, and what types were more of a challenge. If students have been collecting their URLs in a word processing document, have them save them for future use by submitting them in Step 2 of the Online Classroom to the activity called, Submit Your Editorial Sources.


Review students’ lists of potential sources. Provide feedback to students about whether they have a sufficiently varied range of types of evidence for a persuasive editorial on their chosen topic.

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