Eating Bugs! Developing Arguments and Finding Supporting Evidence
Lesson 1 of 8
Objective: SWBAT identify and evaluate arguments and supporting details on a persuasive topic in order to write a persuasive argument to support a claim.
For the "Do Now" today, I will ask my students to refer back to the anticipation guide for Of Mice and Men. I am having them do this because I want to refer back to a specific idea that we discussed before we read the Of Mice and Men: Killing another person is intolerable and should be punished. In other words, I want to know if they think George did the right thing by killing Lennie at the end of the novel. We will be using this question to write an argument essay over the next couple of weeks, so today we will be reviewing the process for writing arguments to support claims (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1).
After my students reflect on their stance on the topic, I will have them select 3 main arguments for or against the topic. I will ask them to jot down each argument on a different index card so that they can organize their support later on.
In order to model the process of developing arguments to support a claim, I will use the following provocative claim: People should incorporate bugs into their daily diets because they are beneficial to the environment, are high in nutritional value, and are eaten all over the world as delicacies.
Next, I will brainstorm a list of three potential arguments for eating bugs. I'm sure my list will really gross my students out, but here goes:
- Eating bugs benefits the environment.
- Bugs have high nutritional value.
- Bugs are eaten all over the world as delicacies.
After reviewing my list, I'll ask if any of my students have any more convincing reasons that I could potentially add to my list. Kids are much better at this stuff than I am, so I can only guess about the types of additions that they'll want to add.
As we are discussing these arguments, I will remind students that they will be going through the process of doing the same thing with the arguments that they are developing on their cards. This is just the practice activity that we will do together, so I don't want them to get confused about why we are talking about bugs rather than the topic they will be independently writing about.
During this section of the lesson, I will tell my students that I really need their help in collecting evidence on my topic. I'll admit to them that I am not as informed as I need to be on this topic, so I really need for them to help me find evidence in informational texts that support my arguments. We'll start by having them collect evidence from a video. I will show them an amazingly gross video clip of people eating and preparing bugs as meals. The video clip can be found at the bottom of the page on time.com.
As they watch the video, I want my students to resist their urge to vomit and jot down convincing evidence that supports each of the arguments I have listed (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1b). I'll ask them to use this organizer to collect the evidence.
I chose this video because it is vivid and interesting---and because it REALLY provides convincing evidence that almost has me convinced to try a fried scorpion. Okay, not really, but close.
After the video, we'll briefly share out our evidence with the whole group. Then, I'll show them a couple of interesting bug snacks that are available at a company called HotLix:
- sour cream and onion crickets
- scorpion sucker
- cheddar cheese worm larvae
I purchased these samples from a local variety store, so I will be able to pass them around so students can examine them closely for nutritional information and ingredients.
These snacks will be a great way to show my students that people really do eat bugs, even in the United States.
For this part of the lesson, I will ask my students to help me collect additional evidence for my three arguments by reading informational texts about eating bugs.
Students can choose from the following articles:
- Walsh, Bryan. (2008). Eating Bugs
- Guynup, S. and Ruggia, N. (2004). For Most People, Eating Bugs is only Natural
- Newman, A. (2013). UN: Let Them Eat Bugs!
- Hance, J. (2013). Eat Insects to Mitigage Deforestation and Climate Change
I will tell my students that they will be divided into triads to research supporting evidence for arguments Each person in the group will read a different article. (You may want to assign the articles purposefully based on your knowledge of students’ reading comprehension levels.)
As my students read their respective articles, I want them to use the index cards provided for the group to cite supporting evidence from the article to support the three arguments (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1). For each index card, they should also be sure to cite the source of the information by writing down the author’s name. For this activity, they may quote, summarize, or paraphrase. Each card should be labeled with the argument number from my list of arguments and should have the author's last name for citing. (It may be helpful to have students review the difference between paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting.) For some classes, I will pull together small groups of students for reading support or additional instructions during this part of the lesson.
This is a critical segment of the lesson, because it will prepare my students for the process of gathering evidence on euthanasia for their argument paper. I'll be expecting them to go through a similar process (on their own) for gathering evidence from three different texts in the future.
Application: Group Talk
After the groups have spent 20 minutes reading the articles and citing convincing evidence, I will ask them to have a group conversation discussing, evaluating, and categorizing all of the arguments by argument number (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d). I'll ask them to be sure that all evidence for each article is placed under the appropriate argument. Each group member should make sure the details are all relevant and supportive of the arguments. I will be circulating to each group to check for understanding or provide additional questioning that will help them with analyzing evidence.
I am having my students engage in this conversation so that they can evaluate whether all of their evidence is relevant and sufficient (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8).
We haven't yet talked about fallacies, so they won't be able to evaluate whether there is fallacious reasoning, but I think they will be able to make an initial evaluation of the evidence. At this point, they can also make corrections to the evidence if they need to.
Again, I want to make the connection that they will need to do this same type of evaluation when they write their arguments on whether killing is ever justified.
For writing practice today, I will ask my students to use the evidence they have collected to write one of the body paragraphs for my (our) argument essay on eating bugs with their group (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1a) and (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1b). For this part of the work, I want to make sure that they explain their evidence within the paragraphs by point out each piece of evidence's strengths and limitations.
I am having my students write this paragraph together because I want them all to experience the success of developing a well-written, convincing paragraph with their peers to build their confidence for writing their own arguments. This success will hopefully build momentum that will create teenaged writing geniuses.
I will remind my students that we will be selecting the most effective paragraphs in the class to combine into one logical, coherent essay that we can use as a model for developing and revising their future argument essays.
At this point, I will assign each group to a specific argument about eating bugs and have them use the evidence they collected to support it. I will also assign one member of the group to be the time keeper to keep them on pace. This is important because sometimes students tend to lose track of time when they do group work and I really want my students to focus on completion of the writing task.
Closure: Exit Ticket
For the closure activity today, I will ask my students to refer back to the list they created during the "Do Now" (on whether killing is ever justified) and write a response to the following prompt (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.10):
"Which part of the process used today will be most useful in helping you write your argument about whether killing is ever justified. Explain." They should consider whether George was justified in killing Lennie as they think about arguments for their future essays.
I am asking my students this question because I really want to know whether the work we have done today will be useful in helping students develop arguments to support claims. This will help me in adjusting the lesson in the future, if for some reason they all say that this lesson was pointless---I certainly hope not!