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Our judges will then use this rubric (PDF) for selecting winners to publish on The Learning Network.
As teachers know, the persuasive essay has long been a staple of high school education, but the Common Core standards seem to have put evidence-based argumentative writing on everybody’s agenda. You couldn’t ask for a more real-world example of the genre than the classic newspaper editorial — and The Times publishes, on average, two of them a day.
And at a time when breaking out of one’s “filter bubble” is more important than ever, we hope this contest also encourages students to broaden their news diets by using multiple sources, ideally ones that offer a range of perspectives on their chosen issue.
So what issue do you care about? Gun violence? Sexual harassment? Social media? You decide.
Good luck, and please post any questions you might have in the comments. We’ll answer you there.
To help with this challenge, Andrew Rosenthal, in his previous role as Editorial Page editor of The Times, detailed seven pointers in the video above. And we have published related lesson plans, including “For the Sake of Argument: Writing Persuasively to Craft Short, Evidence-Based Editorials,” “I Don’t Think So: Writing Effective Counterarguments” and “10 Ways to Teach Argument-Writing With The New York Times,” that offer additional teaching ideas.
We have also culled a list of 401 prompts for argumentative writing organized by category, to help inspire you — although, of course, you are not limited to those topics.
We encourage you to look at both our comments on last year’s winners and the winning essays themselves. They can serve as excellent models, and they cover topics from active-shooter school lockdowns to Korean television shows in China.
In addition, you can watch our free, archived webinar, featuring the Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and Kabby Hong, a high school English teacher.
1. Use at least one Times source. You can write your editorial about any topic, as long as you use at least one source from The Times. That should pretty much open the whole world to you, as you may be surprised how much you can find in The Times.
Be advised that nytimes.com has a digital subscription system in which readers have access to five free articles each month, but after that you will be asked to become a digital subscriber. The Times also offers K-12 digital subscription plans for schools. But all Learning Network activities for students, including our daily writing prompts, as well as Times articles linked from them, are free, so you can access them without exceeding the five-article limit.
2. Use at least one non-Times source. But make sure that the source you use is a reliable one. We encourage you to find sources that offer different perspectives on an issue.
3. Always cite your sources. Our submission form contains a required field for entering your citations. We include an example as well, though you can use M.L.A. or A.P.A. styles, or just list the website URLs. Even if you use a print source or an expert interview, you must provide a citation. Readers (and judges) should always know where you got your evidence.
4. Be concise. The editorial must not exceed 450 words. Your title and list of sources are separate, however, and do not count as part of your 450-word limit.
5. Have an opinion. Editorials are different from news articles because they try to persuade readers to share your point of view. Don’t be afraid to take a stand.
6. Write your editorial by yourself or with a group. If you are working as a team, just remember to submit all of your names when you post your entry. But please submit only one editorial per student. If you’re submitting as part of a team, you should not also submit as an individual.
7. Be original and use appropriate language. Write for a well-informed audience, but include enough background information to give context. Be careful not to plagiarize: Use quotation marks around lines you take verbatim from another source, or rephrase and cite your source.
8. Submissions must be from students who are 13 to 19 years old, and they may come from anywhere in the world. Unlike in previous years, students can now use their entire name if they want.
9. All entries must be submitted by April 5 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern using the contest form above. If you have questions about the contest, feel free to post them in the comments section, and we’ll respond to you there.
10. Follow these instructions if you need proof that you entered this contest. Within an hour of submitting your editorial, you should receive an email from “The New York Times” with the subject heading “Thank you for your submission to our Student Editorial Contest.” If you don’t receive the email within an hour, even after checking your spam folder, then you can resubmit your entry. Be sure your settings allow emails from nytimes.com.
After two attempts and waiting over one full day, if you still have not received a confirmation email, you can contact us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com with the email address you used in the contest form. Use the subject heading “Please send me an email confirmation for my editorial contest submission.” Be sure to include your name and editorial title (or subject) in your email. You may have to wait up to a week for a reply.
11. We will use this rubric (PDF) to judge entries,and the winning editorials will be featured on The Learning Network.
Resources Suggested by Teachers
“Writing an Editorial” Unit Plan, by Lindsay Thompson
“Reader Idea | He Said, She Said, I Say: A Researched Argument Essay,” by Danielle Harms
“Reader Idea | Using an Op-Doc Video to Teach Argumentative Writing,” by Allison Marchetti
“Reader Idea | Using Room for Debate to Teach Argumentative Writing and Discussion Skills,” by Gerard Dawson and Justin Rex
“Reader Idea | An Argument-Writing Unit: Crafting Student Editorials,” by Kayleen Everitt
Good luck and have fun. We welcome your questions and comments if we have omitted details that might be useful. Let us know how we can help.
The Learning Network runs contests for teenagers all year long. See our full calendar.Continue reading the main story