Website review by Polly Conway, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Drafting Board

Students get persuasive skills with delightful civics-based essay tool

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 2 reviews
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
6–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Social Studies, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking

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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.

Full Disclosure: iCivics and Common Sense Education share a funder; however, that relationship does not impact Common Sense Education's editorial independence and this learning rating.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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 Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

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 Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Jennifer C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Carson High School
Carson City, United States
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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