25 Aug

An Activity to Introduce the Academic Argument Model

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Argument and Science, Argumentative Writing, Resources, The Debatifier

Early in the school year, it is a good idea to introduce the fundamental academic argument model to students who may not be fully familiar with it, or to refresh students’ understanding even if they have worked with it extensively in the past.  The ubiquity of the academic argument model — not only in argument-centered instruction, but throughout schooling — justifies spending some precious early-year, culture-establishing time on this task.  This activity is designed to provide students with this (re-)introduction.

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15 Aug

School Choice — An Argument-Centered Approach

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Argumentative Writing, Resources, The Debatifier

In the education sector, the biggest hot button policy issue today is probably school choice.  Charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately owned and managed schools; and tuition tax credits and vouchers to fund students attending private schools — these policy disruptions of the school district operated and managed status quo in public education have generated an enormous amount of discussion and debate.  And this has taken place at every level, from the local community town hall (and even in family conversations) up through state legislatures and boards of education, to the U.S. Department of Education and the halls of Congress.

This is the final post in a short series that reflect work that we have done this summer to prepare argument-based units on issues of particularly strong interest to secondary and middle school history and English departments, going into the 2017/18 school year.  This post develops a unit on school choice, and whether in particular charter schools are disrupting the traditional public education system in the United States in a positive or a negative way — or perhaps (looking toward a syncretic position post-debate) in what specific ways they can help public education and in what specific ways they threaten it.

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11 Aug

Reparations for the Historical Legacy of Racism — An Argument-Centered Approach

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Argumentative Writing, Resources, The Debatifier

No one can know what would come out of such a debate [over reparations]. Perhaps no number can fully capture the multi-century plunder of black people in America. Perhaps the number is so large that it can’t be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. But I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as—if not more than—the specific answers that might be produced.  An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.

— Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations,” June, 2014

There is no issue more controversial, or more essential to an understanding of American history and society, than the issue of race.  This is the second in a short series of posts that reflect work that we have done this summer to prepare argument-based units on social science issues of particularly strong interest to secondary and middle school history and English departments, going into the 2017/18 school year.  This post develops a unit on reparations, and whether the United States has a moral debt to African-Americans, because of its historical legacy of anti-black racism, that it is obligated to pay in a material way.

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07 Aug

The North Korean Nuclear Weapons Crisis — An Argument-Centered Approach

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Argumentative Writing, Resources, The Debatifier

This is the first of a short series of posts that reflect work that we have done this summer to prepare argument-based units on social science issues of particularly strong interest to secondary and middle schools, going into the 2017/18 school year.  This post looks at an argument-centered unit on the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis, what outgoing President Barack Obama warned incoming President Donald Trump would be the single greatest foreign policy threat and problem of his presidency.

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