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Unit Three, Day 23 - Tuesday, November 7/b>

What we'll do today in class:

Connection to Course goals: The first two activities help students understand research, a requirement for meeting our context in Unit 3. The mini-debate emphasizes another requirement of the context - having to understand the background of an issue before making your own argument. The position analysis assignment will ask students to meet this contextual requirement for their own issue.


  1. WTL: After finding your article and the reading in the PHG, list one or two questions you still have about research. (5 min)
  2. Quickly cover the PHG reading.
  3. (5-10 min)

    Transition: We've spent time considering the range of topics, and you should have a pretty good idea of what topic you'll focus on for Essay 4. Now let's see how to research and become educated on an overall issue before making your own argument.

  4. Define important terminology.
  5. (5 min)

    Transition: Let's take a look at how these levels of an argument play out with a specific topic.

  6. Mini-Debate on issue to demonstrate topic/issue/perspective/positions. Have the class consider what a debate on the issue of legalizing marijuana might look like. Your goal in this activity will be to emphasize important feature of academic argument such as: knowing the various positions, effectively addressing audience, accomplishing a purpose, etc.)
  7. (NOTE: This debate can really be done with any topic, but legalizing marijuana has worked well in the past because it lends itself to easily describable groups and some interesting alliances that help distinguish between positions.)

    (5 min)

  8. After they've finished the WTL, discuss what a pro/con debate of this issue might look like.
  9. Academic argument must attempt to accomplish something, and must thus take into consideration the audience's concerns and values and attempt to address them. Also important is articulating a logical and well-supported argument, something that's hard to do (and typically not called-for) in many non-academic contexts
  10. Academic argument assumes any issue will probably be more complicated than a simple pro/con stance.
  11. (10-15 min)

    Transition: Let's take a look at how to complicate these pro/con perspectives and really start to reveal and understand different positions within this issue.

  12. Group activity to see positions within the Legalizing Pot debate.
  13. With their assigned persona, each group should address the following questions:


  14. Once all of the groups have put their information on the board, have students look at the different responses to see the following:
  15. For their issue, they can consider whether such a breakdown exists, but have to find research to show a position is actually valid.

    (5-10 min)

    Transition: Having seen what we're trying to do in terms of learning the different positions within an issue, let's take a look at the Position Analysis assignment, which asks you to undertake a similar exploration of your own issue.

  16. Introduce Position Analysis assignment.
  17. (5min)

    Transition: Since most issues won't breakdown as easily as the legalization debate from above, let's look at how to flush these positions out by closely and critically reading what authors actually say.

  18. Analyze Will/Wiesenfeld article to find different positions he takes or that he implies exist.
  19. IF TIME…

  20. Discuss the issues they brought in from their articles. This will be the last activity that generates issues, and they should be set with their issue by the next class period.
  21. Assignment:

    Using your article (or a new article if you so desire), come up with at least 3 positions taken or implied by the author.

    Decide on your issue

    Bring your article back to class

    If you so desire, begin researching and finding articles on your issue


    PHG, "Narrowing and Focusing your subject", pp. 551-555

    PHG, "Evaluating Sources," 569-573