It has been my experience with teaching students about argument that they have an understanding of the term that is typically negative. In order to begin changing this perception, I begin the lesson by asking the students to create an Argument Circle Map. I give the students 3-4 minutes to write down all the things they can think of about the term "argument." Once this time is completed, I have the students share out in their table groups the things they have listed. They are expected to add any information their table mates have that is different to their own circle map. This takes about 2-3 minutes. Finally, we create a class circle map that includes all the information from each of the groups. Adding information to the class circle map can be done in a few ways. I like to put it on the SmartBoard and have the student groups send a representative to the board to add their information. The kids like coming up to the board. If you need to expedite the process, a student scribe can be selected to write down the ideas that each group shares orally with the class. I try to emphasize the terms and phrases listed that have a positive or neutral connotation.
After completing the circle map, I hand out a copy of the Persuasive v. Argumentative Article that I really like as it provides a clear delineation between the two as well as why each is necessary for success in college and career. The handout is set up in a format that leaves room for the students to annotate and use the margin for note-taking. I ask the students to read through the text silently to themselves and give them about 5 minutes to do so. I then ask the students to define any bolded or unfamiliar words. The groups determine which word or words each member will look up and define in the margin in close proximity to the term in the text. This normally takes a few minutes and then I ask the students to share the definitions they found with the class. I do this to ensure they have selected a definition that is appropriate in context.
I give the students the remainder of the class period to annotate the article. Annotations include, but are not limited to, making connections and summarizing key details. Once this is completed, the students are expected write two paragraphs. The first paragraph summarizes the information presented in this article. The second paragraph summarizes the student's feelings about how and why the information from the article is valuable and helpful to him/her as a learner.