The objective this week is to help students think about organizing and developing their arguments. By looking at sample arguments and discussing such things as claims, reasons, evidence, narration, and opposing arguments, students will begin to see that there are many approaches to writing arguments. We want to show students that there is no single correct way to organize or develop an argument. Rather, the effectiveness of an argument depends on the choices a writer makes in response to his/her audience and context. The HyperFolio assignment will allow students to practice making these choices with their own arguments.
Research and writing strategies and organization: Prepare a lecture, discussion or activity where you review the following strategies for developing and organizing different parts of an argument. If you prepare a lecture, we suggest that you ask students to take notes.
Review the types of strategies for creating introductions (also, see page 314 - 316 in the PHG for additional help with writing lead-ins and introductions):
· State the Topic: Come right out and say it. Tell your readers what your topic is, what the issue/conversation is you are focusing on, and what your argument aims to do.
· Define Your Argument: If your readers are familiar with disagreements among authors contributing to your conversation, you can get right to your main point—what you think should be done about the issue or what you think they should know about it. In other words, you can introduce your argument by leading with your thesis statement. By using your thesis statement in your introduction, you can let your readers know, for example, whether you are explaining something, making an argument to convince them of your points, offering a solution to a problem, etc…
· Define a Problem: Depending on how you define a problem, you’ll call attention to different solutions. There’s a tremendous difference, for instance, between saying, “We have a problem with education: our teachers are not prepared to teach the skills needed in the 21st century” and “We have a problem with education: our students can’t learn the skills needed in the 21st century.”
· Ask a Question: Asking a question invites your readers to become participants in the conversation you’ve joined by considering solutions to a problem or rethinking approaches to an issue or problem.
· Tell a Story: Everyone loves a story, assuming it’s told well and has a relevant point. Featured writer Patrick Crossland began his research project with a story about his brother Caleb, a senior in high school and a star wrestler who was beginning the process of applying to colleges and universities.
· Provide a Historical Account: Historical accounts can help your readers understand the origins of a particular situation, how the situation has changed over time, and how it has affected people.
· Lead with a Quotation: A quotation allows your readers to hear about the issue under discussion from someone who knows it well or has been affected by it. You can select a quotation that poses a question, defines a problem, or tells a story. You can also use quotations to provide a historical perspective.
· Review the Situation: You can provide a brief review of the situation, drawing on other sources or on your own synthesis of information about the issue. A brief review can be combined with other strategies, such as asking a question, defining a problem, or defining your argument.
Introduce strategies for concluding an essay:
· Sum Up Your Argument: Offer a summary of the argument you’ve made in your document.
· Offer Additional Analysis: Extend your analysis of the issue by offering additional insights.
· Speculate about the Future: Reflect on what might happen next.
· Close with a Quotation: Select a quotation that does one of the following:
o sums up the points you’ve made in your document
o points to the future of the issue
o suggests a solution to a problem
o illustrates what you would like to see happen
· Close with a Story: Tell a story about the issue you’ve discussed in your document. The story might suggest a potential solution to the problem, offer hope about a desired outcome, or illustrate what might happen if a desired outcome doesn’t come to pass.
· Link to Your Introduction: This technique is sometimes called a “bookends” approach, since it positions your introduction and conclusion as related “ends” of your document. The basic idea is to turn you conclusion into an extension of your introduction:
o If your introduction used a quotation, end with a related quotation or respond to the quotation.
o If your introduction used a story, extend that story or retell it with a different ending.
o If your introduction asked a question, answer the question, restate the question, or ask a new question.
o If your introduction defined a problem, provide a solution to the problem, restate the problem, or suggest that readers need to move on to a new problem.
Find a few examples (from magazines or Web sites) to illustrate how some writers use illustrations to support their arguments. Pass these around in class:
Tell students that they will be expected to include some type of illustration (common to their chosen context) when shaping their final arguments.
Consider where your argument fits into the larger, ongoing discussion about your issue. Then, provide some setting to show readers what you're responding to so that your essay isn't floating in space. The narration can be personal (a story that you've experienced) cultural (recent trends in society, or a speech or text that you're responding to) or political (recent government-supported actions). By connecting your issue to a something concrete, readers will realize its significance and see the reason for your argument.
o chronological order
o cause > effect
o beneath multiple approaches or viewpoints
o compare and contrast
o strengths and weaknesses
o problems and solutions
Finding Substantial Evidence
You have already completed research to gain an understanding of the ongoing "conversation" about your particular issue, and to identify the range of positions on the issue. Now you'll need to do further research to 1.) consider the range of opposing arguments for your own argument and 2.) find substantial evidence to support your overall claim and sub claims. Use the following strategies to locate further research.
- Harper's - Independent
- Atlantic Monthly - The Economist
- New Republic - The Nation
- National Review - Business Week
- Utne Reader - The Christian Science Monitor
- The Humanist - Scientific American
(** Note that this list is by no means comprehensive.)
Using different Arguing Approaches (from PHG - more traditional vs. Rogerian)
This discussion should give students more of a sense of the different approaches or strategies available to them. Emphasize to students that their argument doesn’t have to be completely traditional or Rogerian. Instead, they might use Rogerian techniques for the most sensitive points in an argument that is otherwise more traditional.
Backwards Outline Analysis Directions: On a sheet of paper, (or on the board) write down the author’s main claim or the controlling idea in the essay. Divide the rest of the paper (or board) into three columns. Then complete the following tasks, one by one: