In this lesson students are led to come up with a position as to whether or not the United States should continue to use nuclear power and then write an argumentative paper.
To begin this lesson I pass out the nuclear chem assignment paper to students. I then have students perform an anticipatory set to get at their initial ideas about nuclear power and where those ideas have come from. I think that this is important as that this is a very controversial topic and it is helpful for students to gauge their prior understanding BEFORE reading the article and then reflect on whether or not they have changed AFTER reading and talking with their peers.
I then tell students to look at the top of their papers and to write down if they agree or disagree with each of the three statements in the anticipatory set and to justify their answers.
As students are getting done writing down their ideas but waiting for their peers to finish I tell them, "If both you and your partner have answered the anticipatory set you can share your opinions with each other."
After most students are done with the anticipatory set (about 5 minutes), I have the class share out their ideas. I do this by going through each of their ideas and asking for students who agree or disagree. I then ask one or two students to share their justifications for their opinions.
I then tell students that it is okay if they are not sure if the U.S. should have nuclear reactors because that is what we are going to learn about today.
This is a copy of one student's filled in anticipatory set.
For this next section of the lesson I go over the assignment with students. I have them look at the back of their nuclear chem assignment paper where it explains how students will be coming up with a paper as to whether or not the U.S. should continue to use nuclear power.
I tell students that as we read the articles they will be looking for pros and cons of nuclear power in order to help with forming an argument. They can write them down on the from page of the nuclear chemistry assignment paper in the table, or they can simply highlight the pros and cons with different colors on the articles.
For this section of the lesson students read the articles, revisit the anticipation guide, come up with pros and cons, and write out their argumentative paper.
After students have turned in their papers I grade them using the nuclear argument rubric. The goal of this rubric is to allow me to quickly grade the papers without having to be super concerned about the details of grammar, spelling, etc.
Here are some examples of graded papers.
For both of these papers the students earned all of their points (14 out of 14).
For this paper the student did a good job but did not include the flaws of the counterclaim so earned a score of 13.
For this paper the student earned a score of 11 because they did not have enough evidence or a complete counterclaim.
These last two papers were weak with scores of 7 and 8.