Errors in Reasoning: Attacks

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SWBAT write examples of opinions with errors in reasoning about a given topic.

Big Idea

Students use critical thinking skills to detect faulty logic in arguments. Non-examples help students learn, too!

Identify and Explain

20 minutes

In order to teach the Common Core writing standards of using reasoning to support opinions, I guide students to explore faulty logic examples in this unit.  Faulty logic is an argument that lacks validity. It is sometimes referred to as paradoxical reasoning because it is illogical, absurd, or contradictory.  Not only will they need to recognize faulty logic so as to avoid using it in their own opinion writing, later they will also be expected to assess reasoning provided by the author and determine if the evidence is based on fallacious reasoning as they enter middle school and high school in preparation for research in their careers or college. Students need to build on prior knowledge to get to that point.  Starting to introduce errors in logic in the primary grades gives students the foundational knowledge needed for this critical reasoning later on.

Although the concept of faulty logic and errors in reasoning is not often taught until later grades, I decided to present my gifted, high achieving class with this challenge.  It is an experiment of sorts for my class consisting of students who are out-of-the-box thinkers. The tricky part is teaching students through non-examples. This non-traditional route of teaching shows students what not to do instead of what to do.  Students use critical thinking skills as they analyze the irrationality of their writing. This activity is a demonstration of the old adage "Learn from your mistakes." Indeed, mistakes provide opportunities for learning.

I introduce the focus of today's lesson, attacks, via my Promethean Errors in Reasoning: Attacks Flip Chart.  Students are introduced to a definition and examples.  I ask students to relate this concept to their everyday life.  My teaching to the Common Core relies on prior experiences to scaffold to high order thinking.  Relating familiar experiences to unfamiliar allows students to build on present knowledge.  Most of our discussions revolve around the presidential election.  We live in Florida, so my students can easily recall commercials in which candidates attack the personality of their running mates. One student discussed the Presidential debate and that personal attacks sometimes enter into the discussions.  I show samples such as  America Deserves Better Video and Right Choice video of the political campaign commercials and ask student to discuss how these fit as examples of attacks.

Modeling and Exemplifying

20 minutes

The video clips of the political campaigns model used attacks to support the candidate's claims.  students discuss what they saw in the video clips and why it is characterized as "errors in reasoning".  Then, I ask students to work with cooperative teams to create their own Attacks student sample.  Each team will create a presentation, using illustrations and text, that exemplifies a claim supported by attacks, similar to the political campaigns advertisements.

Students work in groups of four to six members, following guidelines for Cooperative Groups norms, roles, rules.  I circulate to listen to discussions and observe student interactions.  I usually take videos with my flip camera to document my observations for my formative assessments.  Common Core supports collaboration and discourse.  The cooperative groups empower students to take control of their learning.

Sharing Out

20 minutes

Students gather together and listen as each team member chose a speaker to share their final product.  The speaker presents on behalf of their group, discussing the process of creating their team's final product.  I asked students to critique others in a "Friendly" way prior to beginning their  Kid Friendly Criticism.  It is difficult for students to understand that critiques are great feedback that can improve student performance.  I discuss the Errors Reasoning Rubric for the expectations during the critique.