Investigate U.S. History & Write Counterarguments

U.S. History Investigations: Counterargument

Five U.S. History investigations prepare students to write Counterarguments about historical or social issues in speeches and letters to contemporary audiences. Counterargument tasks call for students to share claims, evidence, and reasoning in support of their position, as well as recognize and address challenging or conflicting arguments. Students draw on their earlier work with Critiques when they share their reasoning to critique, rebut, or reconcile possible counterarguments. The writing task sets a purpose for each investigation, whether trying to understand the perspective of people in the past in the Colonial Women, Presidency, and Abolitionism investigations or thinking about issues of representation in the Trail of Tears and Reconstruction investigations. Each investigation creates a process for social studies inquiry and writing across five days that begins with making connections to students’ lives and extending their incoming knowledge. Check out the Writing Progression page on our website to learn about the different styles of argument writing that are supported by RIW investigations.

What's in an investigation?

Each U.S. History investigation is designed around a central question and includes a collection of modified primary and secondary sources which offer students a range of perspectives from which to draw on when constructing their response. Each investigation is structured by seven disciplinary literacy tools that facilitate student talk and discussion as they prepare to write an argument with a counterargument.

The following resources accompany each investigation: a PowerPoint to guide instruction; a student packet of materials; a detailed teacher guide; samples of student writing scored using our argument writing rubrics; a video overview of the investigation; a video of students’ thinking about the material; a video that models for students how to analyze sources using the Bookmark tool; audio files with us reading the sources aloud; and supports for bi- and multi-lingual learners in English, Arabic, and Spanish. All files can be freely downloaded and edited with proper attribution (they may not be sold or used for profit). Student materials include Microsoft Word and Google Doc versions.

One way to organize an investigation in the classroom

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