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Making an Argument: Effective use of Transition Words

This Lesson at a Glance:
Grade Level(s): 5-8
Download Link: Student Handout

For a new and improved lesson plan on transition words, please check out "Transition Words and Phrases: Road Signs for the Reader."

Lesson Objective:

Students explore and understand the use of transition words in context and write their own persuasive essay using transition words.

Instructional Focus:

Using Transition Words


Visual Thesaurus and Student Handout

Editorial piece or persuasive essay that features transition words, supplied by students, teacher, or accessed from newspaper website.

Instructional Plan:

Students are asked to perform three major tasks:
  1. Understand and explore new forms of transition words;
  2. Examine how transition words are used in an editorial or persuasive essay;
  3. Write their own persuasive essay using transition words.


Note: Teacher may wish to supply editorial or persuasive essay, particularly if it can relate to some current event or class topic.

Individual: Lesson as given; "Challenge" section can be assigned or omitted based on level of students or time frame.

Small Group: Students collaborate by ?chain writing? an editorial or persuasive piece. This can be in writing or out loud; each student contributes a new sentence which has to begin with an appropriate transition word.

Whole class: Since transition words are a part of using language persuasively, this lesson can be applied to many different kinds of writing including letters of complaint, editorials, recommendations, etc.; teachers can bring in an essay for students to write about.

ESL/LEP: The lesson as given is very good for ESL/LEP students. It may help to simplify the transition word list to just one or two examples instead of the more extensive list provided in the student lesson.

Educational Standards

Level III, grades 6-8


General skills and strategies of the writing process (S. 1), including drafting and revising (S. 1.2), evaluation of own and other?s writing (S. 1.4), using content, style, and structure appropriate to specific audiences (S. 1.5) and writing a persuasive composition that conveys a judgment, provides context, is aimed towards a specific audience, and supplies evidence or support (S. 1.10)

Use of the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing (S. 2), including explicit use of transitional devices (S 2.4) and using paragraphs and sentences to organize writing (S.2.2)


Uses the General skills and strategies of the reading process (S. 5), including using a variety of strategies to extend vocabulary, improve understanding of definitions, and compare and verify words meanings, shades of meaning, and word differences in context (S. 5.3)

Understands specific devices an author uses to accomplish his or her purpose (e.g., persuasive techniques, style, literary form or genre) (S. 5.5)

Reflects on what has been learned after reading and formulates ideas, opinions, and personal responses to texts (S. 5.6)

Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts (S. 7), including magazines and advertisements (S. 7.1)


Note 1: The standards used in these lessons follow the McREL guidelines, concentrating on grades 6-8, primarily in the Language Arts (writing, reading, listening, and speaking). Abbreviated Standards are listed here.

Note 2: The ESL variations given are most suitable for intermediate and advanced learners.


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