Last month I posted on a project called Argument Stations on The Catcher in the Rye that has students thinking hard about the novel’s voice, particular diction, and characterization as they point in certain interpretive directions in response to a debatable issue. This post, which examines a unit assessment on the use of evidence in understanding and interpreting the novel, is a kind of corollary and culmination.
We have recently worked with a partner high school on a new gamified activity for heightening the effectiveness of peer rating of student’s academic argumentation, and helping students become more meta-cognitive about what makes their arguments more effective. The result is the Argument Rating Game (ARG).
Not every meal we prepare (or eat) at home is elaborately planned, prepared, and presented. Sometimes we cook “quick & easy” meals, but even these we generally aspire to make nutritious, balanced, and appetizing, too. Similarly with our classrooms: though we strive to be planned, ready, and prepared every day, we are not always implementing finely wrought, meticulously developed curriculum. But we should make these lessons college-directed and academically nourishing, too. What follows is an example of just such a “quick & easy” piece of curriculum, argumentalized.
One of our partner high schools recently took students to see the wonderful production of A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. So I suggested an easy-prep argument-based seminar on the day after the trip (with possibly some de-brief and short writing for follow-up the next day).
Vivian Leventis is an expert middle school teacher at one of our partner schools, the Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies. She developed a social studies unit called “Kids on Strike” that is being implemented at the school this fall. The unit is built around Susan Bartoletti’s 2003 study of the largely forgotten history of the extensive child industrial labor in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (at its height, more than 2 million children worked in manufacturing jobs), and the movement to organize child labor to protect kids’ rights, health, and safety.
One of our partner school’s English classes are using informational texts right now to conduct classroom debates on transgender troops and North Korean nuclearization. In a lesson modeling arguments to support positions on these issues, a student built an argument that banning transgender troops would weaken the U.S. military by shrinking it. The student had evidence from the New York Times Upfront Magazine on the number of transgender troops currently serving. She didn’t have much in the way of reasoning in her model. So we had all the students perform a quick-write to supply the missing reasoning. We looked at a couple of student samples, using a document camera, comparing their strengths and weaknesses, and ending with a synthesized model of reasoning.