‘The Debatifier’ and Refutation Two-Chance Featured on Popular Ed Blog

August 24, 2016 Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Resources, The Debatifier

“The Debatifier” and the ACE activity Refutation Two-Chance were featured last week on the popular (35,000+ readers) and smart education blog run by Michigan high school teacher and writer Dave Stuart Jr.

The blog post recounts Dave Stuart’s implementation experience with Refutation Two-Chance.

 He used it twice last spring, and he learned several valuable, sharable lessons about the use of an argument-centered approach, including:
  • A refutation standard invokes rigor and difficulty in a way that has important academic value for students, but that pushes students out of their comfort zone and requires establishing and upholding a challenging norm.
  • Tracking (or “flowing”) arguments is an essential technical operation in the process of argumentative refutation.  In order to respond to each argument made in a debate or argument-based discussion, there has to be a record of those arguments.  And in order to know whether and how argumentation has been addressed and developed, arguments have to be tracked. 
Click on the image of the Refutation Two-Chance flow sheet for a copy of this essential instrument for the tracking of arguments and their refutation in this activity.
  • Introduction of refutation to students has to be scaffolded.  Students will need refutation modeled, but then they will need to gradually move through a guided instruction stage before they attain autonomy in the skill.  Of course, they will progress through this stage at personal, differentiated rates, requiring varied levels of support. 
  • Teachers have a complex role in the Refutation Two-Chance activity, because they have to track arguments (preferably on a projector, smart board, or low-tech board), moderate the activity, monitor engagement levels, and evaluate student performance.

These are acute insights, engendered through self-reflective practice, and articulated by a sophisticated education practitioner-theorist.  I also happen to agree completely with all of them.

Incidentally, if you haven’t checked out Dave Stuart’s blog, I strongly encourage you to do so (and not because DS says nice things about Argument-Centered Education).  This education blog covers a range of teaching topics — from a framework to guide curriculum decisions, to ways to stay motivated as a teacher, to practical strategies for literacy instruction — unified by a unique, and serious but not somber, sensibility.