Now that students have a basic sense of their arguments, we ask them this week to begin thinking about how they will organize their essays. Drafting an outline or argumentative brief will help students envision how they want their argument to look. Once they’ve determined a tentative shape for their argument, we ask them to think about how to build upon that shape or “skeleton argument” by integrating appeals. Additionally, we cover fallacies this week so that students may avoid making dishonest or illogical points as they attempt to write persuasive appeals.
Please remember to provide lesson and course connections each class day and to introduce and conclude your lessons along with providing transitions between activities.
Discuss Organization for Arguments (you determine time)
The goal for the following activities is to help students begin thinking about how to organize their academic arguments.
Choose from the following activities:
1.) Use pgs. 526 - 528 in the PHG to discuss the varied possibilities for organizing arguments.
2.) Discuss how academic arguments are typically organized (as opposed to more public arguments). What do readers expect when they encounter an academic argument in terms of organization? Where do they expect to see the claim? How do they expect the body of the paper to be organized? What do they expect from the conclusion? Be sure to explain that not all academic writing is expected to be tedious and boring (as students often assume). For example, while it is common to repeat all essay points in an academic conclusion, this is also a very predictable and uninteresting way to end an argument. You might discuss which organizational conventions are important to abide by (i.e. a clear thesis claim) and which ones can be broken (i.e. the boring “In summation I shall now tell you everything I’ve already stated in my essay” conclusion).
3.) Map out the organization patterns used by Koch and Bruck (or other sample arguments from Chapter 10). Discuss which methods seem most effective for an academic audience and why.
Give students the following advice for organizing their papers:
Cluster or create a visual scheme where you sketch out the relationships between your claim, your reason and your evidence.
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?
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).
**See the appendix for a Sample Argumentative Brief that you may share with students.
Discuss Alternative Argument Approaches (15 minutes)
This discussion should give students more of a sense of the different approaches or strategies available to them beyond traditional argumentative methods. Use the points in the PHG on pgs. 483 – 485 to discuss Rogerian Argument. Emphasize to students that their argument doesn't have to be completely traditional or Rogerian. Instead, they might use Rogerian techniques to build connections with their readers or for the most sensitive points in an argument.
To help students truly understand the power of Rogerian Argument, you might bring in some sample arguments that illustrate these techniques. Although Martin Luther King did not take a strictly Rogerian approach, he tended to use a lot of Rogerian techniques in his writing and speeches. Perhaps you could examine some sections of his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. For example, King’s conclusion states:
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
** More of King’s argument can be viewed on pgs. 482 – 483 in the PHG.
Review Argumentative Appeals (you determine time)
The goal for the following activities is to help students understand the importance of using appeals in their argument. Choose from the following activities:
1.) Read about appeals in the PHG on pgs. 478 – 482.
2.) Discuss how Martin Luther King (and/or other writers) use appeals to make their points more convincing. See pgs. 482 – 483 in the PHG.
3.) Bring in samples of appeals to show students how they are commonly used.
Letters asking for donations (environmental groups, politicians, local clubs…)
Advertisements and full-page coupons
Bribe mail from phone, internet and credit card companies
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? (Be sure to explain that appeals should use information fairly. If a writer exaggerates an appeal to misrepresent the truth (i.e. scare tactic) it becomes a fallacy).
4.) Complete 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.
Role Play Activity
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.
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.
Discuss Fallacies in Argument (you determine time)
Begin by defining what an argumentative fallacy is (a distortion of rhetoric to make an argument seem more convincing). Fallacies happen when a writer/speaker manipulates a reader’s emotions; or, when a writer/speaker misrepresents someone’s character; or, when a writer/speaker distorts an argument’s logic. In essence, a fallacy is a dishonest or illogical appeal. Fallacies are commonly found in advertisements and in political debates. Tell students that they should avoid fallacies in their arguments. They may also use their understanding of fallacies to refute untruthful or problematic opposing arguments.
Choose from the following activities:
l.) Review the fallacies in the PHG on pgs. 532 – 535. Sometimes students “tune out” when instructors simply review the fallacies. A more engaging approach is to have students pair up and become experts on one fallacy (you assign each pair a specific fallacy to focus on). Then, students can present their information and teach their fallacy to others in the class. If you use this approach, have students come up with a few examples (in addition to those in the book) to illustrate their fallacy. You might have them present their ideas on an overhead.
2.) Create a worksheet that matches fallacies to a fallacious passage. Have students identify the fallacies in each passage.
3.) Bring in sample arguments that contain obvious fallacies (letters to the editor commonly make fallacies; or, use arguments from various political voices like Anne Coulter and Michael Moore. If you bring in political arguments, you’ll want to use samples from the entire spectrum. Don’t single out certain political groups or individuals, as students can be sensitive to this. So for example, if you’re going to look at President Bush’s fallacious arguments, it would be fair to bring in some of Clinton’s as well.
Assign the following to students this week:
Read some sample arguments (Note to GTAs: You should make these available to students. Samples can be found in the online syllabus appendix). Write a brief response for each argument on the class forum. What are the greatest strengths of each argument? How could each argument be further improved?