What Is An Argumentative Text? How to Teach It in 3rd Grade

Today we’ll answer the questions: What is an argumentative text? And how do I teach it to my third graders? (And fourth graders)

You’ve spent hours scouring the internet and are about to pull your hair out and/or break your computer. You’re not alone.

Searching for resources to teach argumentative text can drive you crazy. There’s not a whole lot out there for it that’s appropriate for our third and fourth graders. Partially, I believe, this is because it’s just so dang hard to teach. And, it’s often confused as the same thing as persuasive text, which you can find resources for all over the place.

To teach it best, we need to start with our knowledge of it.

So, What Is Argumentative Text?

Before we do anything else, we need to be able to answer the question, “What is an argumentative text?” An argumentative text is a piece of writing in which the author states a claim, or position, and supports it with evidence to make the reader understand it as a valid argument.

The author relies on logic, facts, and credible sources to make his/her argument. This means that a lot of the real work begins before the author puts pen to paper with his/her thoughts. The actual starting place is in researching the topic. Then the author chooses a side or an argument.

Argumentative texts, especially those geared toward an audience above the age of 9, present the other side of the argument in the text. The author does this to show his/her fair-mindedness, but also to counter the argument with facts and evidence to show the reader that the author’s claim has more merit.

Basic Structure of Argumentative Text at the 3rd Grade Level

PowerPoint slide to help you introduce and teach argumentative text in third grade

Understanding how an argumentative text is structured is extremely helpful in identifying the author’s claim. While there are different types of argumentative texts, and many can have a much more complex structure, below is a basic starting point for our third graders.

  • Introduction – The author states or implies the claim.
  • Body – The author supports the claim with reason, evidence, and facts.
  • Conclusion – The author restates the claim.

Argumentative vs. Persuasive Text

Argumentative text and persuasive text are NOT the same thing. We should not be using these words interchangeably with our third graders. Click here to learn more about the differences between argumentative and persuasive text.

How do we teach argumentative text to our third graders?

Let’s start by looking at what the kids need to be able to do by the end of the unit:

  • recognize the characteristics and structures of argumentative text,
  • identify the claim,
  • distinguish facts from opinions,
  • and identify the intended audience.
  • And, looking ahead to fourth grade, they will also need to be able to explain how the author used facts to support the argument.

Start with the Prerequisites

There are a couple of things that your students must be able to do before analyzing an argumentative text such as how to determine key ideas. Read more about the skills you want to practice before and during your argumentative text unit here.

Choose the Right Argumentative Text

Choose an appropriate high-interest text with a simple structure. Read more tips on how to find a great article here.

Here’s a free argumentative text for third grade:


Build Literacy Knowledge of Argumentative Text

It’s important to introduce the genre and its essential terms in an engaging way prior to reading. Get a free video to show your students here.

Create an anchor chart to give students a reference for the basic structure and characteristics of argumentative text. Read more about this here.

Get into the Text

argumentative text passage about video games for third grade with student completing an argumentative text response sheet

This is where we’ll break down the actual lesson planning that goes into creating your unit. Below is a basic outline. You can find in-depth explanations in this blog post about how to teach argumentative text to third graders.

  • Build Background Knowledge Before Reading the Argumentative Text
  • Read & Explore the Basic Structure of Argumentative Text
    • Read & Discuss the Introduction and Claim
    • Read & Discuss the Body and Supporting Evidence
    • Read & Discuss the Conclusion
    • Read & Discuss the References
    • Determine the Intended Audience
    • Analyze the Structure
    • Evaluate the Author’s Claim
  • Compare Argumentative Texts with the Same Topic
  • Provide Student Practice
  • Evaluate & Compare Arguments Made in the Same Text
  • Assess Understanding

Want to Save Time? It’s All Done for You Here:

argumentative text bundle for sale. image of a passage, digital task card, and interactive notebook pages
Save 20% on all argumentative resources by purchasing them in the bundle.

This bundle has everything you need to teach argumentative text to your third graders and lifts all the hard work off your shoulders. It is all planned and ready to go.

What You’ll Get:

  • 5 easy to follow, scripted lesson plans take out all the guesswork.
  • 3 of the 5 are PowerPoint lessons that make introducing the genre a breeze.
  • A total of 7 high-interest passages will keep your students engaged.
  • An assessment with an answer key is included.
  • Interactive notebook pages help your students interact with the text and give them a tool to refer back to.
  • Task cards help your students practice distinguishing fact from opinion and identifying evidence that supports the author’s claim.
  • Plus, you’ll get resources for tier 2 vocabulary, grammar, and more!

Read More Details About All the Above:

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pin image - what is argumentative text in third grade - image shows a picture of an argumentative text interactive notebook page
hello, i'm laura heinen from cultivating critical readers

I help third and fourth grade RLA teachers like you create engaging and effective reading lessons without all the stress.

get your free figurative language interactive notebook here


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