Week 5: Monday, September 22nd - Friday, September 26th

Week 11: Activity Ideas

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The suggested activities for this week include:

Development and Organization


Sample Arguments


As always, remember to introduce and conclude your lessons with previews and reviews. Use transitions to maintain a connection between daily classroom activities, assignments, and portfolio and course goals.


Development and Organization

Discuss the possibilities for organizing arguments on pages 487-488 in the PHG. Remind students that the way they organize their argument should be primarily based on the audience--which way will be most effective for it?


Design activities that cover the following:


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 beyond traditional argumentative methods. 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.

Writing Narration

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.


Organizing Research

Label and group your notes and sources using one or a combination of these methods:

  • chronological order
  • cause-effect
  • beneath multiple approaches or viewpoints
  • compare and contrast
  • strengths and weaknesses
  • problems and solutions


Brainstorm connections between your purpose, your claim, your reasons and your evidence and group these ideas accordingly


Cluster or create a visual scheme where you sketch out the relationships between your claim, your reason and your evidence.


Consider your audience. What reasons and evidence should they hear first? What reasons and evidence should you save for later? Will they be able to follow your organization given what they know about your issue? How much narration or background will they need? What structure lends itself to the greater focus and coherency?


Write out a very rough draft and then read through it, drawing lines between related ideas. Use scissors to cut up your draft and try rearranging paragraphs in various orders on the floor. Also, try looking at the argument from the point of view of your readers and ask, which order seems most logical and fitting to their needs and interests?

Writing an Argumentative Brief

One way to show students that organization is flexible and that we can organize according to an audience is to have students create an argumentative brief. Your goal here is to help students see that they can block out their arguments (and play with organization and development) before they draft. The brief makes an argument visible while also offering high levels of flexibility for easy revision before whole paragraphs are committed. Argument briefs are most effective if written in full sentence form, compelling the writer to assert his or her argument points (thesis, reasons, and evidence).

Once the brief is written, you can pair up students so that they get feedback from a potential audience member.

Sample Argumentative Brief

Essay Title (Working): Return the Right to Forego Treatment of Neonates to Parents and Their Physicians

Thesis: The decision whether to treat or not treat a neonate with a serious medical condition, when combined with significant handicaps and abnormalities, should be left to the parents’ discretion—supplemented by consultation with a family physician and an ethics board.

      I.         Introduction/Background: Neonatology has resulted in remarkable advances in the care of very ill newborns, but the costs of such care are not fully recognized.

a.     The most significant development in neonatal care after WWII was the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the capabilities of which have grown steadily since its inception.

b.     Advancements in medical technology have resulted in babies surviving at ever smaller birth weights.

c.     The costs associated with care of the very small neonate are often not considered, either from the point of view of immediate family costs or long-term society costs.

d.     The costs of such care are also measured in terms of the long-term prognosis of surviving babies, which in general is not particularly good since care and illness do not end when sick babies go home.

    II.         Legalities and Ethics: Both legal and ethical dilemmas are associated with advances in neonatology.

a.     It is illegal to deny treatment to any infant.

b.     However, it is unethical to require treatment for newborns whose prognosis is poor and for whom suffering is inevitable and without end.

c.     Without reliable data about the long-term effects of many treatments currently available, vegetative "new species of human beings" are being created—at great cost to society, which absorbs the expenses of such care through increased insurance and medical care costs.

  III.         Ethics Committees: Ethics committees may offer a reasonable way for hospitals, parents, and physicians to make logical decisions about ill neonates’ lives.

a.     In many place, ethics committees have been developed for helping with decisions about ill neonates.

b.     Such committees, made up of religious counselors, physicians, nurses, social workers, and legal counsel, exist for the sole purpose of informing parents and usually are without institutional affiliation.

c.     There is little data (research) to suggest how well these committees are working, and many hospitals do not employ them.

  IV.         The Courts: Legislation has eroded local decision-making regarding neonate life decision.

a.     The 1982 Baby Doe case was a landmark Supreme Court ruling in which The National Right to Life Association petitioned the Courts to allow Baby Doe to be adopted rather than allowed to forego surgery and die, as requested by the parents. Baby Doe died before the case reached conclusion.

b.     Regulations followed the Baby Doe petition specifically seeking that parents not be allowed to deny their children treatment.

c.     The receipt of federal funding would be jeopardized if hospitals failed to comply.

d.     The U.S. Court of Appeals replied saying that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act was "intended to assure the disabled equality such as housing and employment" and was not intended to address the medical treatment of newborns.

e.     On October 9, 1984, President Reagan signed a Senate bill which amended the Child Abuse regulations to include non-treatment of neonates as child abuse and neglect.

    V.         Physicians and Parents: Both parents of ill neonates and their physicians are frustrated by current laws that prevent their decision-making.

a.     A survey of pediatricians showed that most doctors believe that current regulations "encourage or require the over-treatment of infants."

b.     A survey of parents of ill neonates showed that most believe current regulations cause unnecessary pain and suffering to both neonates and their families.

VI.   Conclusion: Decisions about newborns with poor prognosis should be returned to families and their physicians. Hospitals should seek legal protection by instituting ethics boards comprised of persons without hospital affiliation.



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Bring in samples of appeals to show students how they are used around them

Where to look for appeals:

·      Product labels (from shampoo bottles, skin creams, hair products, fancy beverages like Odwalla, food items, etc…)

·      Letters asking for donations (environmental groups, politicians, local clubs…)

·      Advertisements and full-page coupons*

·      Bribe mail from phone, internet and credit card companies

·      Web-sites

·      Arguments found on line or in texts

*The New York Times is a good resource for ads. Students may enjoy analyzing the advertising that is done by a national newspaper whose readership is largely located in a well-heeled and quite provincial urban center like New York City.

Appeals Activities

There are a variety of activities you can construct using products or ads/commercials.  You can have students write out commercials for the products or ads.  Or have students write out mini-arguments for them.  Keep your eyes on the presidential campaign as it unfolds, too!

Group Activity for Written Appeals

Have students break into small groups (3-4) and give each group one or two sample written appeals to look at. Put the following questions on an overhead for each group to address:

  • What is the writer's purpose?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What types of appeals do they use?
  • Are these appeals effective? Why or why not?
  • Do these appeals accurately represent a product or a situation? Are they fair to use? Why or why not?
  • What could the writers do to improve their use of appeals?

Allow each group 3 minutes to share their sample text and present some of their findings to the class. After all groups have finished presenting, emphasize that writers should use appeals to make effective arguments, but that they should also respect their readers and use the appeals fairly to represent their points (not to distort reality).

A Role Play Activity to Practice Using Appeals

Use this activity to get students thinking about how to appeal to an audience to meet a specific purpose. First, prepare five different tasks that require students to develop appeals. Print the tasks out and cut them into separate strips to distribute in class.

Sample Tasks:

  • Persuade your parents to give you $3,000 to start your own T-Shirt business
  • Persuade your landlord to let you have a pet goat
  • Persuade your best friend to go on a date with your 34 year old cousin

Then, break students into small groups (4-5) and have each group choose one strip at random. Once students have their strips, explain the following:

"Your group task is written on this slip of paper. Your group will have 10 minutes to develop an argument to persuade the rest of the class to act on. Someone from your group will then read your task to the class (the class will role play the designated audience) and you will have 5 - 7 minutes to present your argument as a group. Afterwards, the class will decide if your use of appeals was strong enough to persuade us to act on your argument. Be sure to anticipate opposing arguments along the way (as some of your peers may raise questions and objections to your claims). While developing appeals, also consider what your audience will value most. What are their needs and interests and how can you respond to these?"

Give students 10 minutes to prepare arguments before presenting. Tell students that they are free to add some inventive material to their situation (e.g. your cousin just got out of jail and he's feeling very low about himself - he needs a girlfriend to make him feel better). After each group presents, ask the class which parts of the argument were most effective, and which of the appeals worked best. Tell students to keep these observations in mind when writing appeals for their own arguments.


Sample Arguments

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The arguments available in the PHG include:

  • "The Internet: A Clear and Present Danger?" by Cathleen A. Cleaver page 458
  • "The Damnation of A Canyon" by Edward Abbey page 464
  • "Teaching Tolerance in America" by Dudley Erskine Devlin
  • "Les Tres Riches Heures de Martha Stewart" by Margaret Talbot
  • The capital punishment series: "Death and Justice" by Edward Koch page 472; "Death Be Not Proud" by Robert Badinter page 477; and "Death and Justice" by John O'Sullivan page 479.

*If you are using two or more of the "Death Penalty" essays, consider also assigning the introduction on page 471. Also, in the questions section following the readings, you can find Internet addresses for other related arguments.

You should have students identify the aspects of argumentation you are discussing (or have discussed) and determine the effectiveness of that strategy in the argument.

Backwards Outline Analysis

Have students complete this activity using a sample argument.  (It is best not to use a lengthy argument, though.)

On a sheet of paper, write down the author's main claim or the controlling idea in the essay. Divide the rest of the paper into three columns. Then complete the following tasks, one by one.


In the left-hand column, write a brief summary of the content and purpose of each paragraph (e.g. Suzy Q example to support argument about body image). If there are two distinct ideas or purposes in the paragraph, write a brief phrase for each.


In the middle column, write a sentence that explains the connection between what this paragraph says/does and the overall claim at the top. If you don't know or it isn't clear, write a question mark.


In the third column, write a sentence that explains the connection between the paragraphs (i.e. paragraph one and paragraph two; paragraph two and paragraph three, and so on). If there is no clear connection, put a question mark in the third column.

What conclusions can you draw about the effectiveness of the focus, development or organization of the argument based on this activity?


Review the day’s activities (3 minutes)

When you or a student does this, take special care to make clear their connection to both Portfolio 2 and larger course goals. Take care to provide some sort of conclusion to each class.