Tuesday, October 27th and Thursday, October 29th

Week 10 (Tuesday, October 27th and Thursday, October 29th)

This week begins the shift from fairly explicit daily lessons plans to a weekly schedule that includes recommended activities. Use the practice you’ve gained drafting your own lesson plans based on this syllabus to take more ownership of your classroom and begin designing some activities that you feel will help to guide the writing needs of your particular students.

This being said, Tuesday, October 27th is the day students should meet with you individually to discuss their transition from their inquiry essays to the argument assignment.  Therefore, there should be no formal class on Tuesday, October 27th. 

Weekly Lesson Objectives

Students will

Suggested Activities

Cancel the first day of class this week to make room for conferences!

Conference with each student (15-20 minutes per student)

You should have had the opportunity to at least read (if not grade) the students’ inquiry essay, so you should have an idea of where their curiosity about this issue stems from and what direction they may want to go.  They will also have included a tentative thesis statement/claim at the end of their inquiry essay.  This information, combined with the conference dialogue worksheet, will allow for a fruitful and meaningful conversation between you and your student.  The primary goal of each conference is to help students decide how they would like to proceed from this point forward.  This is an excellent opportunity to help steer students away from too broad or vague of issues or topics and to help them find a narrow and interesting focus.  It is much better to intervene in the beginning of the process than before it’s too late.  This is also an excellent opportunity to discuss any confusing areas of Assignment 4.

Secondary goals of each conference are numerous; it’s important to be flexible (it’s very likely that some students will show up with no Conference Dialogue Worksheet at all), so you will need to adapt each conference and make it productive for each student.

Conduct a WTL about “The Argument Culture” and Discuss (10-15 minutes)

Ask students to write about their responses to “The Argument Culture" (assigned for homework due today).  Prompt students with questions on the overhead:


Ask students to share some of their WTL ideas and point out that while the academic argument’s purpose is to convince readers, students do not necessarily have to set out to “win” or bully their readers into agreeing. 

Introduce argument structure (15-20 minutes)

Since the purpose of many arguments is to convince readers to agree, it’s important to have a central claim for readers to agree with.  An argument’s main idea is its central claim (think back to the summary assignments in which students looked for the claim/thesis in the articles in the ROG).  Writers build arguments off of claims by providing reasons, statements that show why the writer believes the claim to be true.  Since reasons often are opinions, they need evidence to show that they can be considered valid. 

Show students an example like this one:

Claim: The U.S. government should subsidize solar power. . .
. . .because it is good for the environment (reason 1)
. . . because it is renewable (reason 2)
. . . because if it cost less, more people could afford it (reason 3)

Each reason needs to be supported with evidence (which can include firsthand observations, examples from personal experience, statistics, facts, quotations from your reading, results of surveys and interviews, etc.). Remind students of the kinds of evidence they found convincing in articles throughout the semester and your discussions of how the authors’ choices of evidence reflect their purposes, audiences, and contexts.

It may be beneficial to brainstorm a few possible claims and reasons examples as a class.  They could even be ones the students have been working on themselves.

Introduce the 4 types of claims (10-15 minutes):

Students should have read about these different types of claims in the PHG, but it is still a good idea to review them in class with different examples.  Students should also have identified what kind of claim theirs is.  Claims are, essentially, the foundation of an argument and should have occasion, exigence, and a level of complexity behind them.  You will need to explain these things to students.

With these criteria, students should be able to decide if they need to further think about their own claim.

The claim will become the focus of the argument, so it is worth taking time to develop one that will work. Claims for arguments need to be debatable and of an appropriate scope (neither too narrow nor too broad). To help students understand these concepts, present a few sample claims on the board:

Sample claim: Wind power is safer and less expensive than nuclear power.

            What kind of claim is this? [claim of fact]

            Is it debatable? [yes, people could argue against it.]

To determine if the claim is appropriate in scope, test out reasons and opposing arguments.  If the writer needs more than a few reasons to prove that the claim is valid, the claim might be too broad in scope.  If the writer can prove the claim with just one reason, the claim might be too narrow.  If nobody would disagree with the claim, it may be too narrow (or it may have no exigence).  If there are many legitimate opposing arguments, the claim might be too broad in scope.

What reasons could the writer give?

What opposing arguments would the writer need to refute?
If the writer can support the claim by proving a few reasons and by refuting a couple of opposing arguments, the claim is appropriate in scope. 

Show a few more examples on an overhead transparency (include at least one that won’t work—in these examples, the claim about value is somewhat moot while also being too broad in scope):

Claim about cause and effect:

Cap-and-trade would reduce carbon emissions.

Possible reasons:                    It would make emitting carbon expensive.
                                                It would encourage companies to

What other reasons could the writer use to support the claim?

What opposing arguments will an academic audience most likely bring up?

Claim about value:

Fossil fuels are bad.

Possible reasons:                    They emit carbon into the atmosphere
                                                They’ll eventually run out

What other reasons could the writer use to support the claim?

What opposing arguments will an academic audience most likely bring up?

Claim about policy or solution:

The government should subsidize biofuels.

Possible reasons:                    It would expedite new technologies
                                                It would make biofuels less expensive
                                                It would help farmers

What other reasons could the writer use to support the claim?

What opposing arguments will an academic audience most likely bring up?

Practice claims, reasons & opposing arguments (20-25 minutes)

Ask students to “test” one of the claims they've written by brainstorming reasons and opposing arguments for it.  Once the class has had time to work on their own for a bit, ask a few students to write a claim, reasons, and opposing arguments on the board.  Talk these through with the class just as you did with the examples.  Be sure to point out any problems you see if the class is being “too nice.”  Likewise, if the class is finding fault with everything, show them the ways in which the examples could work. 

Recommended Homework for Week 11

Remember to adjust your homework accordingly for each of your own daily lesson plans.  You may need to incorporate more detailed homework, or re-organize these recommendations as needed.