Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this writing, reasoning, and civics lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 5-12, students use BrainPOP resources (including an online game) to explore the process of producing clear and polished opinion essays. Students will use arguments presented in a variety of resource documents to help them form an opinion on a controversial civics issue. They will then use an online essay-building platform to make their claim and support it with evidence and reasoning in order to produce a structured and effective argument.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Analyze and synthesize primary and secondary sources.
  2. Compare and analyze text.
  3. Incorporate elements of structure, tone, vocabulary, and audience when writing an effective persuasive essay.


  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP


This lesson plan uses an online game from iCivics called Drafting Board. It's designed as a teaching tool, which means the game works best when the teacher is available to actively facilitate the process and answer students’ questions. We recommend allotting 3 to 4 class periods in order for students to complete the game.

There are 6 Drafting Board topics, which are designed to complement the iCivics curricular units:

Student Expression: Does the Constitution guarantee the right to wear whatever clothing you want at school?
Community Service: Should schools require mandatory community services for graduation?
Interest Groups: Does the influence of interest groups harm or help our political system?
Electoral College: Should the U.S. president be elected by the Electoral College or the national popular vote?
Kids and Credit: Should young adults under the age of 18 be given access to credit cards?
Military Intervention: Should the international community send military forces to stop a potential genocide?

Be sure to preview the game and the related BrainPOP topics to ensure they are appropriate for your students. You may also want to check out iCivics' teacher resources from which portions of this lesson plan were adapted. The teacher resources include a step-by-step teaching guide, guiding questions, printable versions of game resources, and more.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Prepare students for the game by playing a BrainPOP movie that is related to your unit of study.
  2. Project the Student Expressions game topic for the class to see, and work through the exercises as a class. Use the Student Expression Game Guide as needed to support student learning.
  3. If your students are just starting to learn about argumentative writing, you may want to continue this process for the rest of the Drafting Board topics. More advanced students can be paired together to work on a Drafting Board essay.
  4. Talk with students about their strategies and understandings.
  5. Use the game quiz to assess student learning.