Errors in Reasoning Overview

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Objective

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!

Activate Prior Knowledge

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.

This lesson is an overview of the Errors in Reasoning Unit.  It can be done prior to the other lessons in this unit to assess prior knowledge of the four types of errors:  Faulty LogicAttacksWeak Reference, and Misinformation.  It can also be done after as a summative evaluation.

To begin the lesson, I discuss the four types of Errors in Reasoning using my Misinformation_Flipchart.

Examples of Errors Game

20 minutes

I organize students into groups consisting of  4 member teams.  I give each group a set of cards to display examples of each type of errors in reasoning (see master sample document).  Then, students play a game by taking turns picking up a card of the example they want to identify (Errors_In_Reasoning_Game.mov).  If more cards are created, teams can interchange cards and continue this cycle of identifying types of errors displayed by the examples per card.  To make this a self-check game, write the answers lightly with pencil on the reverse side of the cards.  This game continues until all cards are identified correctly.

*A good summative evaluation of the learning from this unit might be plating this game but asking students to make their own examples at the end of this unit.

Sharing Out

20 minutes

After the game, I gather students together for a discussion.  Students share what they learned from this game.  I ask students to fill out a reflection sheet Ticket out the door to get feedback on the effectiveness of this activity.

My class enjoyed this activity, as evidenced by their verbal and written feedback.  It is an interactive game and clears up misconceptions, when students do not correctly identify a card.  Teammates explain why it is incorrect.  So, students get immediate feedback from their teammates.