Analyzing Argument In Text

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Given two opposing articles on sports in school, SWBAT identify the argumentative appeals used by both writers.

Big Idea

Students learn to recognize the building blocks of effective argumentation.

Whole Group Application

30 minutes

In keeping with the CCSS shift towards argument analysis and writing, today my students will be exploring two articles from Scope magazine (January 2014 edition) that allow them to identify the argumentative appeals used by two respective writers on the topic of whether or not sports belong in schools.  I have included photos of the articles (Scope Page OneScope Page Two), because I xeroxed them from a free copy I received at my school.  My school does not have a paid subscription to Scope, but if it helps, here is their website.

The first task I assign my students is to divide a piece of paper in half and label each column accordingly, as illustrated in the  Analyzing Argument Assignment that I have written on the white board.  I then explain to them that we will be reading as a whole group an article that supports the removal of sports in schools.  As we read, their job will be to highlight the reasons and evidence the author provides to support her argument. 

When we have finished reading the article, I ask for student volunteers to share their findings.  As they share, I instruct them to transfer their reasons and evidence to the "yes" column on their papers, and to place an E (ethos), a P (pathos) , or an L (logos) next to them, as they determine what each reason/evidence is most likely an example of.  These are terms with which my students are becoming familiar, having been introduced to them in a previous lesson.

Partner Application

30 minutes

After the whole-group application, I pair my students up with their table partners in order for them to apply the same whole-group technique to the article that supports keeping sports in school (Scope Page ThreeScope Page Four).  

Giving my students a partner through this portion of the lesson encourages dialogue and debate around the issue being explored, allowing them to engage in the language of effective argumentation with one another.  This lesson continues the introduction of the language of argumentation into our classroom, as I am gradually providing my students opportunities to become familiar and comfortable with identifying the argumentative appeals and how they work together.

I instruct them to read the article to each other and to perform the same highlighting and appeal-labelling activity.  When they have finished their reading, they then transfer their reasons and evidence to the column marked "no" on their papers (Student Sample-Analyzing Arguments).  By keeping track of the reasons and evidence for and against sports in schools on their paper, it gives them an opportunity to see both arguments, side by side, and to weigh the effectiveness of the reasons and evidence of both authors more clearly.

Exit Ticket: So What Do You Think?

10 minutes

Before my students leave class, they are required to complete an exit ticket that states their stance on whether or not sports belong in schools,  and their most salient reason for that stance, based on the articles they have read. This activity gives them an opportunity to acknowledge whether or not their opinions were swayed by the reasons and evidence provided in either of the articles.