Tag Archives: argumentation

The Weekly Text, June 28, 2019

If there is anything better than Vermont in the summer, I guess I don’t know what it is. I’ve lived in this state on and off in my life; I’m now looking for a job here, and hope to stay here for the rest of my working life.

This week’s Text is a complete lesson plan on argumentation; more specifically (and as with the other lesson plans on argumentation I’ve posted, this one relies on Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff’s excellent They Say/I Say: The Move That Matter in Academic Writing), this lesson involves students in the use of rhetorical figures in argumentation to enter an ongoing debate. I begin this lesson, right after a class change, with this context clues worksheet on the Latinism nota bene, generally abbreviated as n.b. Users of other context clues worksheets from Mark’s Text Terminal will note that this document is a very slight departure from the usual format. Finally, here is the worksheet that is at the center of this lesson.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, November 16, 2018

It’s a snow day in Springfield: I salute the administration at the city level for its good sense. Snow days in New York were rare indeed. I recall with some bitterness, actually, making my way to and from the North Bronx to Lower Manhattan in some pretty messy, aggressive storms.

Several years ago, after reading Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s book They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (New York: Norton, 2010), I got stuck on the idea of teaching argumentation at the high school level. Accordingly, I worked up this unit plan for teaching argumentation. Unfortunately, in this school in which I was serving there was no meaningful support for this kind of work. So this unit, by my standards, is still in its preliminary stages of development. Still, the basic outlines are there for teaching the material Mr. Graff and Ms. Birkenstein so ably present in their book. Indeed, I’ve already posted a lesson from this unit on Mark’s Text Terminal.

This week’s Text is the fourth lesson plan from this unit argumentation (you can find the other three by searching Mark’s Text Terminal for “argumentation”). Like the other three I’ve published, the work for this lesson is further practice on using rhetorical forms to frame arguments. I open this lesson with this context clues worksheet on the Latin phrase exemplia gratia, which, as you probably know, means “for example” and turns up most commonly in English prose as the abbreviation e.g. Finally, here is the worksheet for trying out various rhetorical figures in arguments.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

A Late August Text on Rhetorical Forms in Argumentation

At my school, teachers in all four common branch subjects assign research papers as a matter of academic routine. Unfortunately, as far as I’ve seen and therefore know, nobody on the faculty has developed explicit instructions and materials teaching the numerous skills involved in assembling research, let alone judging, organizing and synthesizing it. Nor does anyone teach argumentation (I assume it goes without saying that we have no debate or forensics team), a key skill for composing a synthetic research paper.

For years, this rankled me as the bad practice it clearly is. Last year, I finally resolved to do something about it: I wrote this unit plan on argumentation, which I titled “Arguing Your Case.” All of this work is adapted, as the unit plan explains in its “Methods and Materials” section,  from Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s excellent manual They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (New York: Norton, 2017). As I write this, the Third Edition lies before me on my desk; this is a textbook, evidently, that will go into numerous editions.

But the gravamen of the book–using basic rhetorical figures to structure argumentative discourse–will certainly remain the same. I’ve already posted the first two lessons from this unit (you’ll find them here and here). Here is the third lesson plan from the “Arguing Your Case” unit, this one on using the “They say” and “Standard views” procedure for laying out, in one’s argument, the current research, conventional wisdom, or what have you, on a particular subject. I use this context clues worksheet on the noun discourse to open this lesson, Finally, here is the combination of a learning support and worksheet that students use to get a sense of how to perform the academic task at hand.

I wrote this unit for more advanced students than I usually teach. If you plan to use this material with struggling learners, particularly kids with low levels of general or academic literacy, you will almost certainly need to edit the texts in the worksheet, which, frankly,  I cribbed from The New York Review of Books.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Argument

“To argue is to produce considerations designed to support a conclusion. An argument is either the process of doing this (in which sense an argument may be heated or protracted) or the product, i.e., the set of propositions adduced (the premises), the pattern of inference, and the conclusion reached. An argument may be deductively valid, in which case the conclusion follows from the premises, or it may be persuasive in other ways. Logic is the study of valid and invalid forms of argument.”

Excerpted from: Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.