New Online Course! Teaching Argument Writing Rhetorically

By Jennifer Fletcher

This spring, I have the honor of facilitating an online course for the National Writing Project as part of its series on teaching argument writing. I have long been an admirer of everything NWP does, so this is a special treat for me. I feel like I’m among friends whenever I’m with Writing Project folks.

I’m also excited to have the chance to explore one of my favorite topics with colleagues from around the country: teaching texts rhetorically. I continue to see rhetorical thinking as the pathway to independence so many of us are seeking for our students. For the past several years, I’ve been working on doing a better job of supporting my students’ journey from novice to expert. Instead of prescribing rules and formulas that increase students’ dependence on teachers, I’ve focused on developing the rhetorical knowledge that enables students to adapt and apply their literacy learning in new situations.

When we teach argument writing rhetorically, we empower students to make their own choices as thinkers and communicators. A rhetorical approach cultivates flexible, independent learners who can discover their own questions, design their own inquiry process, develop their own position and purposes, and contribute to conversations that matter to them. Those competencies will be a key focus of the NWP course.

The four-week course will also provides strategies and frameworks for taking argument writing to the next level by developing students’ rhetorical problem-solving skills. These include the dialogic and analytical skills that help learners communicate and collaborate across contexts. I daily bump into reminders of how difficult communicating across our differences can be. “Understand before you argue” has become a guiding slogan in both my teaching and personal life. This is one of those areas where my practice can fall short of my aspirations, so I’m especially looking forward to hearing ideas from colleagues for promoting civil discourse and productive, student-led conversations.

Using examples from my book, Writing Rhetorically, participants in the course will examine and design instructional activities that foster inquiry-based argumentation and transferable literacy skills. Here’s a quick preview of some of my top picks:

If I could only use one strategy to scaffold students’ understanding and analysis of texts, I would choose descriptive outlining. If you’ve heard about this high-impact tool and have been wanting to try it with your own students, the NWP course could be a good way to get started. The course will afford participants practice and planning time with these and other signature pedagogies of a rhetorical approach to argument writing.

And because we can all use some extra processing time these days, we’ll be taking a six-week break between Session 1 and Session 2 of this course for folks to pilot the instructional strategies and reflect on their learning. During this hiatus, I’ll be available for one-on-one live coaching sessions (included in the course registration fee).

I hope you’ll consider joining us for this course as we share ways to deepen students’ understanding of how to analyze and compose arguments in diverse settings. If you have any questions, please DM me @JenJFletcher or email me at

Jennifer Fletcher is a professor of English at California State University, Monterey Bay and a former high school teacher. She is the author of Teaching Arguments, Teaching Literature Rhetorically, and Writing Rhetorically.

NOTE: The registration fee for this course includes a print copy of Writing Rhetorically: Fostering Responsive Thinkers and Communicators (Stenhouse 2021).

What You Will Get:

  • Four real-time virtual workshops
  • A print copy of Writing Rhetorically: Fostering Responsive Thinkers and Communicators
  • Digital study guide and appendixes for Writing Rhetorically and Teaching Arguments
  • Activities and graphic organizers for teaching audience, purpose, genre, and structure
  • Support for teaching evidence-based reasoning, synthesis, and claim development
  • A digital badge indicating completion of 20 learning hours
  • Option for 2 CEUs through CA State University, Monterey Bay for an additional cost.

Time Commitment

  • This course will run for two weeks in March and two weeks in May:
    • March 6 – 17, 2023
      • Real-time events: March 8th and 15th, 4-5pm PT | 7-8pm ET
    • May 1 – May 12, 2023
      • Real-time events: May 3rd and 10, 4-5pm PT | 7-8pm ET
  • 1 hour of synchronous and four hours of self-paced learning per week for a total of 20 hours

For registration questions and payment options, email

Register here. Please visit this link for more about courses offered by NWP.

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