Solving Problems Students Care About Through Extended Argument

This College, Career, & Community Writers Program (C3WP) "Making Civic Arguments" project helps students in grades 6-12 identify local issues that affect their community, provides a framework through which students get thoroughly informed on those issues, and supports students in writing and revising published letters addressed to local decision-makers and the public at large. By doing the work to become informed, students learn to value evidence, credibility, and logical lines of reasoning while actively participating in an opportunity to create real change.

(from a January 12, 2016, Education Week blog post entitled "Argument Writing Helps Students Become Participants in the Real World" by Casey Olsen)

"We frequently talk in education about real-world learning, and I would go further and say that our classrooms are the real world and should reflect its complexity. We need to make space for examining multi-sided issues ... We must teach our students to be active members of college, career, and community conversations. The energy students bring to these topics can fuel really passionate writing too.

"Teaching students to substantiate what they say with evidence helps transform stubborn opinions. C3WP teaches students to push past the challenges to find or create real solutions to contemporary problems in the school, the community, or the nation. The search for credible evidence makes us informed. While opinions never solve problems, informed and passionate people can. 

"New standards, tests, and mandates come and go in American education, but we will always need to prepare young people to make logical sense of their world and to argue for reasonable solutions based on the best information available. Argument writing is uniquely cross-curricular and scholarly. Argument is civic, democratic, and American. Writing argument resonates with every empowering ideal that brings teachers to the profession in the first place--to teach students that learning matters and that their voices matter. That no matter who they are or from where they start, they can make a difference. They can change the world."