What you’ll do today in class:
- Review research and discuss key points from the readings
- Conduct “mini-debate” to analyze an issue
Connection to course goals: The main goal of this class is to show students the type of process they’ll need to go through to make sure they understand the background and complexity of an issue before planning and making their own argument.
1. Review research and key points from the readings (15 minutes): Plan a discussion that addresses how students can find good sources, record bibliographic information, use a research notebook/log, and cover the pros and cons of Internet research, useful Internet research sites and online databases, as well as any other points you want to emphasize. Have a few students talk about useful resources or search strategies that helped them find articles on their issue so far.
2. Mini-debate on an issue to demonstrate topic/issue/opinion/position (30 minutes): The goal of this activity is to have students understand and practice the process they’ll need to go through in analyzing their own issue. Create an activity that gives the class practice in applying the key terms you’ve defined to a particular issue. One of the most effective ways to reach this goal is to have students generate a debate on a familiar issue. If you’re having trouble coming up with an activity or want ideas, see the sample activity in the appendix that asks students to analyze the positions and values of different groups involved in the issue of the legalization of marijuana. This debate activity can really be done with any issue, but the question of whether marijuana should be legalized has worked well in the past because it lends itself to easily describable groups and some interesting alliances that help distinguish between positions. Whatever activity you plan, be sure to emphasize these key concepts:
- People take different positions because they have different values and concerns.
- There can be different positions within the general opinion of an argument (i.e. both drug dealers and parents might be against legalization, but for very different reasons).
- When we talk about positions, we’re not referring to PRO, CON, and SOMETHING IN BETWEEN. It’s much more complicated than that.
- In making an academic argument, you have to consider and address the audience’s values and concerns (possibly their opposing arguments) in order to be effective.
- We research an issue to get a sense of what positions are there (e.g. legalizing marijuana lends itself to easily distinguishable groups who would take different opinions).
- For your own issue, you’ll need to find research to show that each position you identify is actually valid.
3. Assign WTL (5 minutes): Have students revise their homeworks and assess whether their list actually includes positions (as opposed to opinions). If not, ask them to revise the list. If yes, ask them to begin defining who takes these positions and why based on what they know so far.
Assignment for Day 35:
- Read “Narrowing and Focusing Your Subject” (552-55) and “Evaluating Sources” (569-73) in PHG.
- Find one article on your issue.
- Bring your article to class Wednesday.