Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Argumentation Unit

This unit is focused around the following CCS:

Standard 9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning. 

Standard 9-10.5: Analyze in details how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular, sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of the text (e.g., a section or a chapter).


This unit is primarily determined by the district, as both the pre and post tests for the mini-unit are designed at the district level.
On the first day of this unit, students are given an electronic pre-test (given through a program called Actively Learn) over the concepts they are expected to learn as a result of the unit.  The results of this pre-test are used to design the content/focus of the unit.
On day two of the unit, the students read and annotate a non-fiction article over the art of rhetoric in general.  They are taught annotation strategies for non-fiction texts in class and then given time to employ those strategies as they read.  Here are some of the notes on non-fiction reading strategies that I share, along withe modeling these strategies with the first page of the assigned article.  These strategies will be helpful as they read this article, but they will also be applicable as the students move on to reading non-fiction pieces for thier research papers and the independent reading assignment for this quarter.

 
 
As a follow-up to this assignment, students read/watched "The Arrogance of Power" speech by Robert C. Byrd and completed a small formative quiz meant to gauge their retention of the ideas present in the reading from the previous day.  They were asked a number of questions meant to assess their basic knowledge of subject, speaker, audience; context and purpose; and appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos.  They were also asked to use this knowledge to analyze how rhetorically effective they found the speech to be.

On the third day of this unit, we learned about argumentative components.  Students took notes and practiced with visual media examples of argumentative components.  After taking notes and reviewing some examples, students were divided into small groups and asked to identify and analyze the argumentative components of a variety of speeches.  The speeches were placed on large sheets of butcher paper in order to allow them to add as much as they would like.  This strategy does require a bit of set-up on the part of the teacher.  Before class started, the 4 different speeches were printed and affixed to butcher paper, like this:
Here are links to the four speeches that were used:
These speeches were spread out throughout the classroom:
Students were placed in small groups and given the following instructions:
After day 1 with the speeches, the posters looked like this:

I really liked this activity, because it got students talking about the components they were noticing.  It also helped students to notice that not all arguments contain all components.  We are working towards analyzing whether arguments are rhetorically effective and through this activity, students were able to begin to understand/analyze how the absence of certain argumentative components served to make an argument, overall, weak.
On the next day, they read an article on Actively Learn and identified/analyzed the argumentative components within the article.
This video was part of the instruction from the argumentative components section of the unit.

Next, students learned about assessing the strength of an argument.  We took notes on credibility of sources and on bias in sources.  The posters, created as part of analysis of components of an argument, were redistributed (no group had the same poster/argument again) and students were asked to add notes about bias/reliability/credibility onto their analysis of the argument.  After practicing with sample sources, students read an argument in Actively Learn and assessed the credibility of sources referenced within that argument.
Here is one of the videos shown on evaluating sources:
Here is another short video used to share information on recognizing bias:
The students next looked at rhetorical devices/moves typically applied by authors/speakers and learned how these work in argument.  Most of them are devices they are familiar with as literary devices, but antithesis is a new concept for them.  Here is a video we used to help explain this concept:
Students then looked at an argument and identified and analyzed the rhetorical devices/moves present.  The posters, created as part of analysis of components of an argument/strength of an argument, were redistributed (no group had the same poster/argument again) and students were asked to add notes about rhetorical devices/moves onto their analysis of the argument.  After practicing with sample sources, students read an argument in Actively Learn and assessed the rhetorical devices/moves emplyed within that argument.
We followed a similar notes, practice, and analysis structure as they learned about argumentative appeals.  This image is a good overview of ethos/pathos/logos and is part of the notes that students take on this subject:
This video is also an interesting way to look at ethos/pathos/logos in action:

After taking notes, the posters, created as part of analysis of components of an argument/strength of an argument/rhetorical devices, were redistributed (no group had the same poster/argument again) and students were asked to add notes about argumentative appeals onto their analysis of the argument.  After practicing with sample sources, students read an argument in Actively Learn and assessed the argumentative appeals referenced within that argument.

The same structure for learning is followed as student learn about logical fallacies.  Here are some of the videos from the notes on fallacies:
Used to supplement notes on the straw man fallacy.

This video is used as an example of the correlation vs. causation fallacy.
This website is also as an example of ridiculous correlation vs. causation fallacies.
This serves to supplement the notes/examples given on false analogies.
Similar examples are used to review Halo Effect, Slippery Slope and Fear Tactics (overuse of pathos).
Here is a video that is used to show the fallacy of bandwagoning:

This video is just funny, but highlights many of the fallacies that are explored as part of this unit:
After taking notes, students look for fallacies in arguments that have been explored throughout the unit, share an over-all rhetorical analysis of the arguments they have been analyzing and finally engage in a Kahoot review of the terms learned as part of this unit before taking the district-mandated test for the unit.  Here are the guidelines they are asked to adhere to as they present their analysis of the argument they are assigned to:
Students used the notes that were taken throughout the unit on each of the speeches by their peers as they completed their analysis.  I was impressed with the depth and amount of notes they were able to cultivate as we moved through this unit.  Here are some examples from the posters at the end of the unit:

Most of the students chose to make Powerpoints or Prezis for their visual, but a few made posters as they analyzed the articles/speeches:



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