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Lesson Plan

Finding Common Ground: Using Logical, Audience-Specific Arguments

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Finding Common Ground: Using Logical, Audience-Specific Arguments

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

Susan Spangler

Susan Spangler

Fredonia, New York


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • discuss issues from more than one perspective (think critically).

  • find areas of commonality in opposing perspectives.

  • determine appropriate starting points for arguments in their writing.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. Introduce the activity by explaining that today, students are going to think about arguments in a slightly different way—from their opponents’ (or audience’s) point of view.

  2. Read the scenario with the students.

  3. Ask students to spend a few minutes writing as accurately as possible about their position on the situation and the arguments they would use to convince their audience.

  4. After students have had a chance to gather their ideas, have them share their thoughts with the class.

  5. While the students share their responses, record their thoughts on the board or on chart paper.

  6. Next, ask students to consider the opposite point of view: Ask them to spend a few minutes writing as accurately as possible about their audience’s position and the arguments the audience might use.

  7. Invite the students to share their responses, and record on the board or on chart paper.

  8. Ask students to find areas of overlap between their positions and their audience’s position. Focus students on questions such as “How are you and your audience similar?” and “What basic issues can you and your audience agree on?” Students should record their observations using the Venn Diagram tool.

  9. Have students write how they would begin a conversation with their audience, keeping in mind the common ground they have just determined from their Venn Diagrams.

  10. Students can also role play the conversation with partners and then use the Persuasion Map to organize their thoughts.

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  • Have the students do similar lists (one that summarizes their arguments, and one that summarizes their audiences’ feelings) for their own persuasive writing, based on what they know of the audience they are addressing.

  • Students can continue to explore logical arguments using Purdue OWL's resource Logic in Argumentative Writing. This resource covers logical vocabulary, reaching logical conclusions, fallacies, and improprieties—all elements important to consider when writing persuasive and argumentative texts.

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Collect students’ in-class writing and Venn diagrams, or informally assess participation in the discussion. Their work during this session can also be included with the final essay as evidence of their process.

Ask students to reflect on the process they use to construct a formal argumentative essay. Have them include the analysis of the audience’s point of view and the process by which they choose their own arguments to counter them when they submit their work.

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