04 Nov

An Argument-Centered Seminar in Action

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Classroom Debating, Resources, The Debatifier
At James Otis Middle School (a rising neighborhood school on Chicago’s near-northwest side), teacher colleagues Kellye Galvan and Peter Simpson — model veterans,  committed to constant professional improvement, who could not care more about their students’ academic growth —  recently conducted an argument-based seminar to culminate her Roald Dahl’s The Witches unit in their English language arts curriculum.  The debatable issue for the seminar, and one of the debatable issues for the unit, was:

The narrator in The Witches is actually better off as a mouse than as a boy. 


09 Oct

‘Bud, Not Buddy’ and Argument-Based Small Group Discussions Linked to Key Passages

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Classroom Debating, Resources, The Debatifier

This is the second post on Argument-Centered Education’s newly designed method of organizing teaching and learning around academic argumentation in ELA literature units.  The strategy is one we call Argument-Based Discussions Linked to Key Passages.  We recently collaborated with ELA teachers with one of our middle school partners to adapt this instructional format to a unit on Christopher Paul Curtis’s Bud, Not Buddy (1999).


21 Jun

Video Pieces and Short Analytics on a Classroom Mock Trial on the Jamestown Colony

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Classroom Debating, The Debatifier

At the end of SY2017, one of our partner middle schools — James Otis School, a rising neighborhood K-8 school on Chicago’s near northwest side — implemented the mock trial project we developed for a unit on the early Jamestown colony in North America in the early 17th century, based on the excellent and multiple-award winning young adult novel, Blood on the River.  The debatable issue at the heart of this argument-centered project is

Was the British aristocracy (i.e., those who ruled because of the family they were born into), according to Blood on the River, responsible for poisoning the colonies’ relationship with the native population in America?

And the full project was laid out in an earlier Debatifier post, here.  This post will consist of several video clips from this implementation, led by veteran educator Janet Smith, along with brief analytics attached to each clip, highlighting two proficiencies and one deficiency.


14 Jun

The Synthesis Solution Protocol: An Early Look

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Classroom Debating, The Debatifier

Policy debate? Sure, as long as the home team always wins. Politics today . . . is attitudinal, not ideological. The reason to be for someone is who is against them. What matters more than policy is your side’s winning, and what matters more than your side’s winning is the other side’s losing.

 —  James Poniewozik, New York Times, May 4, 2017

All those problems [e.g., economic inequality, urban violence, climate change] are serious, they are daunting, but they are not insoluble.  What is preventing us from tackling them [is that] we now have a situation in which everybody is listening to those who already agree with them, and are further and further reinforcing their own realities, to the neglect of a common reality, that allows us to have a healthy debate, and then try to find common ground and actually move solutions forward.

 —  President Barack Obama, University of Chicago Forum on Youth Leadership and Public Service, April 24, 2017


23 May

Video Clips of Classroom Debates in Spanish (on Beauty) and on Greece (in English)

Les Lynn Classroom Debating, The Debatifier

We wanted to share a small set of video clips we recently gathered from partner schools who this spring implemented argument-centered projects en español on authentic beauty and its relationship to cosmetics, and on the comparative value of ancient Sparta and ancient Athens as models for societies today (in English, for a social studies classroom).

These short clips can give teachers and administrators a further glimpse into argument-centered classrooms, as they engage students in debates on issues that they have researched, studied, organized their ideas about, and built arguments on.