Writing an argumentative essay
Step 1
Objective: Identify a specific debatable issue to address in the essay.  (read pages 171-172 in the HoltThe topic must be related to educational issues.
 

Step2
Objective: Students identify the two sides of the issue.
Activity: Play the believing and doubting game. Write two paragraphs, each defending one side of an issue.
For example, begin the first paragraph with "School uniforms are needed  because....."
Then start the second paragraph with "Students should not be required to wear uniforms because....."

Step 3
Objective: Students distinguish assertions as a) statement of fact, b) statement of inference, c) statement of opinion, d) personal preference
Read pages 132-133 and 153 in the Holt Handbook
Activity:  Write  three facts about your topic.  Then state an opinion about the topic.  Make an inference about the topic and state the facts used to make the inference.

Remember that opinions are derived from personal, religious, political  values, and experiences.  Therefore, no matter how strong your argument, there will always be people that disagree with you.  When you are ready to write the essay, you will need to take one side to give focus to your argument.  You should also recognize your opponent's point of view and find its weaknesses.

Read below to see more examples.
A fact is a statement which can be verified as true or false.
Example: A comma splice is a comma placed incorrectly between two independent clauses.
English 101 section 1 meets at 8:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
I was sick on Monday. Liver is a good source of iron.

An inference is a conclusion about the unknown based on the known.
Example: If we poison streams, the fish will die.
Eating liver will help fulfill the requirement for iron.

An opinion is a conclusion or belief that is not substantiated by proof and therefore is debatable.
Example: Young people watch too much television.
College students should be required to go to class.

Personal preference is individual and subjective.  It cannot be argued.  If I do not like spinach, you cannot "make" me like it.
I like anchovy pizza. Anchovy pizza is great. I like your new dress.

Example of syllogism: (3 statements connected by terms that demonstrate a conclusion)
1. Begin with a general statement:
The government should protect all citizens.
2. Follow with a specific instance of the first statement:
People who live near polluted streams are citizens.
3. Conclude by connecting the terms in the previous statements:
The government should protect people who live near polluted streams.

Practice
Identify the following statements as a) fact, b) inference, c) opinion, d) personal preference