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Writing a Position Paper -- Civil War Creative Writing Lesson

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 2/14/2012

The focus of this lesson is writing to take stand for the North or the South and to write a position paper. This American Civil War lesson can be an integrated lesson for social studies and language arts or a stand-alone writing one.

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    Civil War Position Paper

    The following are steps for the position paper lesson:

    Step 1 – Decide the length of the paper. This position paper can be a basic five-paragraph essay. Make sure students have a strong understanding of their position on the conflict between the North and the South.

    Step 2 -- Tell students to pick a position on the Civil War. Who do they believe was right in the conflict? Students need to come up with three major reasons or historical facts to support their position. If students have completed the research paper in this series of lessons on the Civil War, they should have a good understanding. If not, some research time will be required.

    Sample Outline for Students

    Step 3 -- Assign students to complete an outline of their ideas.

    I. Introduction for Civil War Position Paper

    A. Introduce the American Civil War topic by giving basic background information about the conflict

    B. Give position on the war (for the North or the South) in one sentence. This is called a thesis statement.

    II. Write a counter argument (a claim in opposition to your position). Students will need to play "devil's advocate" and figure out what the other side's argument would be.

    A. Write counterclaim #1 and provide details

    B. Refute the counterclaim #1 or show that counterclaim #1 is false or has errors by providing evidence

    C. Write counterclaim #2 and provide details

    D. Refute the counterclaim #2 or show that counterclaim # 2 is false or has errors by providing evidence

    III. Write about your position

    A. Reason #1 for your position

    1. Write opinion

    2. Provide support and details

    B. Reason #2 of your position

    1. Write opinion

    2. Provide support and details

    C. Reason #3 of your position

    1. Write opinion

    2. Provide support and details

    IV. Conclusion for position paper

    A. Restate position and summarize paper

    B. Give a plan for action to be taken

    Write Draft of Position Paper & Peer Edit

    Step 3 -- Assign students to write a draft the paper. Students need to follow the outline to have an organized paper.

    Step 4 -- Have students peer-edit each other's papers. Other students need to check that the person's arguments are sound and have support.

    Step 4 -- Asses the students' research paper with a rubric. The criteria for the rubric could be the validity of information, details and support of arguments, organization, spelling and grammar.

    This is just one of five writing activities in the Civil War Writing Lessons series. This position paper will allow students to share their opinions with support and evidence. Students can share what they learned in an informal speech or a formal one.