CommonLit Help High School Students Grow as Argumentative Writers with These Engaging Opinion Pieces

Sparking student interest is sometimes best done with a bit of controversy. That’s why we’ve collected some of our most engaging opinion essays for high school students. Each of these informational texts from our digital literacy program will not only launch a class debate but also serve as an opportunity for students to have fun grappling with relevant topics and argument analysis. They also serve as exemplars of great argumentative writing! Do I hear an opinion essay coming..?

No, Mobile Phones Should Not Be Banned in UK Schools” by Stephen Corbett (9th grade)

Students will be excited to read this argumentative essay claiming that cell phones should be allowed in schools. Poll the class on this topic before and after reading to see if anyone has changed their mind.

This argumentative essay lesson is a great model of opinion writing. Have students follow the development of the author’s argument through their annotations while reading. This not only supports students reading comprehension, but it will also prepare them for Assessment Question 3, “How does Paragraph 7 develop the idea that mobile devices should be allowed in school?”

Life Isn’t Fair - Deal With It” by Mike Myatt (9th grade)

In this opinion essay, Mike Myatt argues that fairness is actually a subjective idea rather than a natural characteristic of life. Do you agree? Do you think your students will?

Use this argumentative text and reading comprehension lesson as a launchpad for students to write their own opinion essay responding to Discussion Question 2, “The author believes that ‘fairness’ is not a useful term, and that it makes people feel entitled to good outcomes. Make an argument for the opposite - how would you convince someone that the concept of ‘fairness’ is an important one?”

Should We Scoff At The Idea Of Love At First Sight?” by James Kuzner (10th grade)

This spicy opinion piece focuses on the neuroscience of love. It’s also sure to be a relatable and engaging topic to bring your students into a deep analysis of a writer’s argumentative structure.

This is a great text to use as a baseline for extended argumentative writing practice. Ask students to discuss and draft a written response to Discussion Question 2, “Do you think that love at first sight exists in the real world? Why or why not?” They could even draft a written response!

Why I Despite the Great Gatsby” by Kathryn Schulz (11th grade)

In this opinion piece, Author Kathryn Schulz argues why The Great Gatsby isn’t actually all that great of a novel.

After completing the reading comprehension assessment questions from this lesson, use the related media video “Psychology of Strong Opinions and Social Connections” to expand student thinking regarding opinions and argument. Ask students to evaluate Kathryn Schulz’s opinion. Is Schulz’s opinion strong? Why or why not? Then, ask students to apply that same evaluation to revise their own opinion writing.

The Fallacy Of Success” by G.K. Chesterson (11th grade)

Students have very specific ideas of success. This 1915 argumentative essay challenges ideas of success and just may push your students to do the same.

Use the reading assessment questions to push students’ to support their analysis of Chesterson’s argument with text-specific evidence with Assessment Question 3, which asks how a specific quote from paragraph 4 supports the passage’s central idea.

What Adolescents Miss When We Let Them Grow Up In Cyberspace” by Brent Staples (12th grade)

Today’s students (and many of today’s teachers!) have never lived in a world without the Internet. In this opinion piece, Brent Staples asks readers to consider the ways growing up with such connectivity could impact them as they age.

This is a great text to push students to create their own piece of thoughtful argumentative writing. Use Discussion Question 2 as a writing prompt that must be supported with evidence: “What costs does the author identify of growing up online? Do you agree with the author’s views on the Internet? Why or why not? What benefits do you think the Internet provides teenagers?”

Will The ‘Right’ College Major Get You A Job?” by Glenn Altshuler (12th grade)

Top of mind for many 12th graders, this article explores whether or not college pays off in the ways it’s advertised to students.

Use the paired text “Is College Worth It? Is This Even the Right Question?” by Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum to extend student thinking further. Ask students to compare how both texts explore the differences between the experiences of those with college degrees in the job market and those without degrees? Then ask students to write a response to the same question: Is college worth it?

Next Steps

Want even more skills-focused reading lessons for students? Check out our Target Lessons for high schoolers!

Sign up for an upcoming webinar for other great ideas to leverage our digital platform to enhance ELA instruction, too!