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

Week 12: Activity Ideas

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The suggested activities for this week include:


Introductions and Conclusions

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.



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Teaching fallacies can be tricky.  Sometimes students will get scared of slipping into fallacy and fail to make strong enough claims/sub-claims.  The point to emphasize about fallacies is that, yes, a multitude of them can seriously affect an argument's strength, however, our goal in identifying fallacies isn't to decimate other people's arguments or scare us out of our own.  It is to determine how flaws in logic affects effectiveness and to see how to avoid making them.  Few arguments are airtight; fallacies are problematic when they are used to deliberately manipulate an audience or obscure the real issue (this is particularly true of scare tactics or sentimental fallacies).

Fallacy Activities

Design an activity that reviews the fallacies described in the PHG.  Follow that up with an activity where students can practice using fallacies.  You might have students "sell" a product via a performed "commercial" and using as many logical as they can.  As each group performs, have the class identify the fallacies as they come.

You can create a worksheet that matches fallacies to a fallacious passage or statement or read a fallacious argument to call into question an argument's effectiveness and reinforce each fallacy.

For example, Edward Koch's argument ("Death and Justice, page 472 in the PHG), although convincing on the surface, contains a number of logical fallacies:

  • Paragraph 3:  Slippery Slope.  Studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter crime.
  • Paragraph 5:  Hasty Generalization.  How does Koch know that chemical deaths are painless?  Obviously, evidence can't be gathered from the subjects because they are dead.  While there are some tests that measure pain levels as the subject dies, some case studies from failed suicides show that chemical deaths are more painful than any other type.
  • Paragraph 6:  Faulty Analogy.  Chemotherapy is a treatment used to prolong life; capital punishment is a treatment used to bring about death.  Cancer is a physical disease; crime is not a physical disease--although, if Koch wanted to use a metaphorical comparison, there are ways he could strengthen this.  Furthermore, his statement about injustice being the disease is then a non sequitur.  It doesn't follow from his previous statements.
  • Paragraph 8:  Either-Or.  We can either have the death penalty (and the possibility of killing innocent people) or the government can't function at all.
  • Paragraph 10:  Faulty Analogy.  Koch compares murder to rape, saying that if we diminished the punishment for rape, it would diminish the victim herself.  But by his "eye for an eye" logic, followed to its logical conclusion, men who rape should not go to prison, they should be raped in return (just as men who kill are killed in return).


Introductions and Conclusions

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Once students know how they will organize the body of their argument, spend time helping them develop their introductions and conclusions.

Writing Introductions

Review the types of strategies for creating introductions (also, see page 314 - 316 in the PHG for additional help with writing lead-ins and introductions):

  • State the Topic: Come right out and say it. Tell your readers what your topic is, what the issue/conversation is you are focusing on, and what your argument aims to do.
  • Define Your Argument: If your readers are familiar with disagreements among authors contributing to your conversation, you can get right to your main point—what you think should be done about the issue or what you think they should know about it. In other words, you can introduce your argument by leading with your thesis statement. By using your thesis statement in your introduction, you can let your readers know, for example, whether you are explaining something, making an argument to convince them of your points, offering a solution to a problem, etc…
  • Define a Problem: Depending on how you define a problem, you'll call attention to different solutions. There's a tremendous difference, for instance, between saying, "We have a problem with education: our teachers are not prepared to teach the skills needed in the 21st century" and "We have a problem with education: our students can't learn the skills needed in the 21st century."
  • Ask a Question: Asking a question invites your readers to become participants in the conversation you've joined by considering solutions to a problem or rethinking approaches to an issue or problem.
  • Tell a Story: Everyone loves a story, assuming it's told well and has a relevant point. Featured writer Patrick Crossland began his research project with a story about his brother Caleb, a senior in high school and a star wrestler who was beginning the process of applying to colleges and universities.
  • Provide an Historical Account: Historical accounts can help your readers understand the origins of a particular situation, how the situation has changed over time, and how it has affected people.
  • Lead with a Quotation: A quotation allows your readers to hear about the issue under discussion from someone who knows it well or has been affected by it. You can select a quotation that poses a question, defines a problem, or tells a story. You can also use quotations to provide a historical perspective.
  • Review the Situation: You can provide a brief review of the situation, drawing on other sources or on your own synthesis of information about the issue. A brief review can be combined with other strategies, such as asking a question, defining a problem, or defining your argument.
Writing Conclusions

Introduce strategies for concluding an essay:

  • Sum Up Your Argument: Offer a summary of the argument you've made in your document.
  • Offer Additional Analysis: Extend your analysis of the issue by offering additional insights.
  • Speculate about the Future: Reflect on what might happen next.
  • Close with a Quotation: Select a quotation that does one of the following:
        1 . sums up the points you've made in your document

            2. points to the future of the issue

            3. suggests a solution to a problem

            4. illustrates what you would like to see happen

  • Close with a Story: Tell a story about the issue you've discussed in your document. The story might suggest a potential solution to the problem, offer hope about a desired outcome, or illustrate what might happen if a desired outcome doesn't come to pass.
  • Link to Your Introduction: This technique is sometimes called a "bookends" approach, since it positions your introduction and conclusion as related "ends" of your document. The basic idea is to turn you conclusion into an extension of your introduction:

             1. if your introduction used a quotation, end with a related quotation or 

                 respond to the quotation.

             2. if your introduction used a story, extend that story or retell it with a

                 different ending.

             3. if your introduction asked a question, answer the question, restate the

                 question, or ask a new question.

             4. if your introduction defined a problem, provide a solution to the problem,

                 restate the problem, or suggest that readers need to move on to a new



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.


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.