Digital Skills: Developing Online Assessment Skills in Everyday Classroom Activities Western Reserve Public Media
Tracing an Argument
Students will practice highlighting parts of an argument in a provided text, including the claim, reasons, and evidence. If applicable, students can identify an opposing claim and counterclaim.
I can:

Identify the parts of an argument.

Tech Skills:

Students will practice highlighting skills. These skills can be transferred to the AIR test where students will be able to highlight in the texts and questions.

Materials and Resources:

Digital copy of an argument of your choosing. One copy for each student and one copy for projection.

A digital highlighter add on for your browser, such as the free extension Super Simple Highlighter for Chrome

Or, you can use digital resources you may already have access to, such as a digital copy of your textbook and a built in highlighter.


***Suggested Resource: Actively Learn has free content that is easily assignable to students. It also has built in tools. Visit at


Grade Level:
  • 6th-8th Grade
Subject Area:
  • Language Arts

Activity 1

  • Provide students with access to digital copy of a short, grade level appropriate, argument. It would be best to start with an argument the length of a paragraph for students just beginning to learn the structure.

  • Read the argument as a class.

  • Ask students to identify the topic of the article. (For example: Recycling)

  • Ask students to identify where the author states his or her position, or opinion, on the topic and have the students highlight the sentence. (For example, recycling should be legally required of all citizens.) Discuss that this is the author’s claim and it is the first part of an argument. (Be sure to choose an argument that has a clearly stated claim for younger students.)

  • Next, ask the students to identify pieces of text where the author states why he or she has chosen the particular position. It is helpful for students to verbally put the claim into a question. (For example: Why should recycling be legally required of all citizens?) Note to students that the answers to these questions are reasons, and are the second part of an argument. Have students highlight each reason in a separate color so that there is one color for the claim and multiple separate colors for the reasons.

  • Ask students to identify evidence to support the claim and reasons. Discuss that evidence often consists of facts, statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, and/or examples. Have students highlight the evidence relevant to each reason in the corresponding color.
  • It may be necessary to model the first reason and/or piece of evidence for students just being introduced to arguments at the sixth-grade level.



Activity 2

  • Repeat this procedure with a longer argument either as a class or in cooperative learning groups.

  • Incorporate opposing and counterclaims into student highlights as students become more comfortable with identifying the pieces of an argument.



Extension Activity

  • As students transition to writing arguments themselves, encourage students to identify the parts of their own arguments by highlighting them.

  • Encourage students to also highlight while revising and editing, such as to ensure there are sufficient transitions.


Reading Informational Texts Standard 8

Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.

Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

Supplementary Resources:

Students can practice dragging and dropping skills with an online game called Kahoot.

If you do not already have an account, you can create a free account at

You can then create a jumble to allow students to put the parts of an argument in order by dragging and dropping.

Or, you can create a multiple choice activity.

You can also search already made activities to see if one fits your needs.
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