Mnemonics for Argumentative Essay Planning


UDL 3.3 UDL 5.2

Mnemonics for Argumentative Essay Planning (e.g. STOP, RAFT) are direct, memorable strategies that use verbal and visual cues to help students brainstorm and prepare their ideas as they plan an essay and take a side on an issue (e.g., take a side on school uniforms). When applying the mnemonic, students decide on their topic and stance on the issue (e.g., take a side on school uniforms). They also use the strategy to gather ideas and information to strengthen their argument and begin to organize their argument.This process allows students to develop and formulate their ideas before they write and gives teachers the ability to provide targeted feedback and direction before students begin their draft. Students also develop independence through the ability to apply mnemonics to future essay planning.

Implementation Tips

Use STOP as a Planning Tool
Use the Mnemonic **STOP** to have students ***S**uspend Judgment* and write down information for both sides of an issue while researching a topic. Once they have all their information, they will ***T**ake a Side*. Finally, students will ***O**rganize Their Ideas*, and ***P**lan to Add as They Write*.
Use RAFT as a Planning Tool
Use the Mnemonic **RAFT** to help students determine their ***R**ole as a Writer*, their intended ***A**udience*, and the ***F**ormat of Writing* they will be using. After the first three steps, students will choose a ***T**opic* and begin to plan their essay. Provide a graphic organizer, such as [[ | this example]].
Model the Strategy
Determine the essay topic and the mnemonic strategy that will be used for the teacher-led model that demonstrates the strategy. Then, script out the teacher model for each step of the mnemonic using a visual aid and planning checklist that follows the steps of the strategy.
Provide Targeted Feedback to Students
As students are working through the steps of the mnemonic, circulate to monitor student progress. Use the structure of the mnemonic in order to redirect the student if they are not effectively planning. Providing targeted support for the steps of the mnemonic will help students learn to self-assess using the steps.
Design Lessons & Interventions
Based on gaps noticed while students are planning using the mnemonic, plan for a whole class or small group mini-lesson. For example, if you notice that students are struggling to organize their ideas, develop a lesson around how to organize an essay (e.g. using an outline or paragraph template).
Highlight Strong Student Examples
Select strong student examples for each step (e.g. a student’s work that showed a clear understanding of who the writer’s audience would be) to share with the entire class. Draw attention to the strengths of the student’s ideas in that step to provide an additional model for students.
Plan with a Partner
Pair up students who chose the same topic (or assign struggling students to one essay topic they both show interest in) and encourage them to go through the steps of the mnemonic together in order to plan their essay.


Using STOP to Monitor Student Thinking During the Planning Process
The class is working through the ***S**uspend Judgement* portion of the **STOP** mnemonic. The teacher is circulating and notices that a student has only collected information about one side of an issue (e.g., only has facts about the benefits of getting rid of school uniforms). The teacher reminds the student that it is important to collect information about both sides of the issue during this step. The teacher and the student analyze the student’s work together to determine what information is still needed. The student begins to collect information for the other side of the issue.
RAFT for Argumentative Writing
The teacher notices that a small group of students is having trouble determining their intended ***A**udience* as they are using **RAFT** to plan their argumentative essay. The teacher directs students to continue working and pulls the small group who needs support with this step. The teacher leads students through a breakdown of the essay prompt, asking students to think of who they might be writing to about a particular issue (e.g. school uniforms). In the discussion, students think about who they would need to convince in order to change the uniform code, such as the principal.
Interventions Based on Student Planning Process
The teacher collects student work and notices that a group of students is struggling with ***O**rganizing* their ideas using the **STOP** mnemonic. The teacher realizes that students need a mini-lesson with essay organization in order to be successful with this step of the strategy. The teacher plans a mini-lesson that provides students with a structural outline to use as they organize their ideas before they write. The students then go back and revise their original work, continuing to the next step when they’re ready.

Related Strategies