Review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Drafting Board

Students get persuasive skills with delightful civics-based essay tool

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Teachers say (2 Reviews)
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Grades
6-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The step-by-step process makes persuasive essay writing much less intimidating; clear tools build kids' confidence in argumentative writing.

Cons: Unfortunately, it isn't possible to use your own issues with the site; you'll have to follow one of the pre-loaded lesson plans.

Bottom Line: It's a fantastically detailed tool that helps kids through every step of persuasive essay writing.

Drafting Board was created as a classroom tool, so it's all set up for you to use as a series of lessons, a flipped-classroom resource, or a homework activity. Depending on how much time you'd like to spend on persuasive essays, you can assign kids a chunk each night or have them work on their essays each week. The site would also be a great supplement or introduction to an existing persuasive writing unit.

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Drafting Board is a website that gives kids practice creating a persuasive essay. A free resource from the family of iCivics sites, it provides a framework that allows kids to slowly but surely prepare a valid argument. Six separate tools introduce kids to concepts; they'll use the site's various tools -- the Issue Analyzer, Claim Creator, Paragraph Constructor, Critic Crusher, Introduction Introducer, and Conclusion Crafter -- to read, review evidence, and make a decision on the provided issue. 

There are a handful of issues to choose from; for example, Student Expression follows the controversy surrounding a student's band T-shirt at Hamilton Middle School. Its format is like an online workbook; kids complete a series of activities that they can then reference when writing the actual essay.

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Kids can learn to gather and analyze supporting evidence for an argument, and ultimately should be able to communicate their own viewpoint persuasively through writing. They'll learn how to use language to convince readers, as well as choose the most appropriate evidence from all kinds of sources (quotes, legislature, and simple conversations) to prove a point.

Drafting Board breaks up the daunting task of writing a persuasive essay and turns it into a less-intimidating series of smaller steps that add up to a successful argument. Drafting Board is an outstanding way to give kids the tools to create a persuasive argument; after completing all the steps, they'll feel confident in their argument and ready to stand up for their side of any argument.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Design is extremely charming, with cool cartoons and fun sketched backgrounds, and the interface is easy to navigate. The topics are interesting, and kids can really focus on critical thinking.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids will come up with their argument by making a series of smaller decisions that will help them reach their final conclusion. They'll learn invaluable writing and analytical skills that they can transfer to other pursuits. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Kids are guided through the steps of creating an argument, and the site has lesson plans and an overview for teachers.


Common Sense Reviewer
Polly Conway Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

5
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Featured review by
Jennifer C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carson High School
Carson City, NV
4
Customize and challenge students to develop their argumentative writing skills! A great teacher tool.

A great tool to have on hand. The one thing I would like to see is the ability for the teacher to develop their own scenarios into the same interactive format ( I would pay for this). The vocabulary and reading level is high, not sure it would be able to be used with lower level language learners.

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