Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time. This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.
After a lesson on introducing the basics of argument, we continue this work by reviewing different examples of an argument. Seeing arguments in context gives students a clear understanding of what an argument is. It helps focus their thinking so they can understand the varied types of argument writing, whether it be persuasive or literature based. Since this unit serves as more of an overview on argument, I try and give students different models as a way to help them clarify their thinking that argument is not just persuasive.
I pull up the Introduction To Argument Powerpoint on the Smartboard. We begin with the ninth slide. This example is taken directly from the Common Core's web-site and is research-based with the hopes of persuading an audience to take action. I read the example out loud and ask them what the main argument is. I push students further by asking them what the logical reasoning behind it is. I highlight that the example brings up the funding will provide a better education. This is the type of logical reasoning that students are required to include as they work on argument, according to the Common Core.
The next slide has a different type of argument, one based on literature. This is not an argument that they are used to writing but they will have experience as they continue as writers. I read the two examples out loud and ask which one is a stronger argument based on the understanding of an argument. We review the second example as begin a stronger argument as it takes a clear stance and pushes toward proving a point about a novel rather than just explaining.
After reviewing examples of introductions to argument, we move on to a longer piece so students can see an argument in context. This helps students to see the development of an argument as well as an author's purpose.
I pass out copies of the The Perils Of Indifference Speech by Elie Wiesel to the students. This is great piece to challenge students. The language is a little more complex and the concepts are higher-level. Depending on time, I either read the speech out loud to the class or they following along as I play the audio, which is available on the web-site for his speech. This picture shows the web-site: The Perils Of Indifference Screenshot. We read (or listen) through the speech once to get a general understanding. This video discusses the use of The History Place as a resource: The History Place
I then have students work in groups to answer the questions from the last slide of Introduction To Argument Powerpoint. These questions focus on the author's claim, reasoning, and evidence. Students work together to answer the questions. They highlight on the speech and discuss their ideas with a partner. I assign the partners as it is easier to manage. I encourage students to read it a second time but this time with the purpose of answering those questions. I want students to get in the habit of rereading a text as it can help them analyze it more. We then review the speech as a class by discussing the main idea and the evidence from the text that supports it. This helps to make sure everyone understands the main purpose of the speech.
With time permitting, students can work on drafting the beginnings of an argument in their notebooks. While I don't always have time, I encourage students to think about topics they are interested in so when we begin taking a piece through the revision process, we have a few different drafts to work with.