09 Sep

Arguing about Ancient Chinese Philosophy — the Confucianism vs. Daoism Project

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Professional Capacity Development, Resources, The Debatifier

We worked recently with a partner school’s Global Studies course and their Ancient China unit.  The outcome: an argument-based small group discussion project on Confucianism and Daoism.

The post below includes resources which focus on the way that arguments can be made about the desirability of certain systems of thought and the values they inscript. The project also uses a format of discussion that is looser and less rules-based than a debate (though, of course, rules have their utility and place, when striving to reach certain levels of rigor in a scaffolded academic setting). Finally, this project is an example of the way that an argument-centered approach has the agility to incorporate varied curricular resources — in this instance, some SHEG (Stanford History Education Group) document excerpts and background information.


04 Sep

Tracking an Argument: Flowing RFK’s Speech on Our Use of the Gross Domestic Product

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Resources, The Debatifier

I recently collaborated with Jones College Prep AP Macroeconomics teacher Mike Borge on a short project he developed around the use of the gross domestic (or national) product as a key measurement of national strength.  The component that we helped build out is the argument tracking function.  Through this project, students learn how to convert straight-forward annotation into listening for and “flowing” argument.

The debatable issue for the project is:

Should the gross domestic product (GDP) be used as a key metric of American strength.


31 Aug

Bringing the Hurricanes into Your Classroom

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Resources, The Debatifier

The late-summer, 2017, brought two enormous, category 5 hurricanes crashing into the southern United States and the Caribbean, a several week ordeal that some individuals and communities in these regions will be spending years recovering from.  Given the suffering that these massive storms have produced, one response we should feel as educators is a charitable one.  Hurricane Harvey charitable efforts are collected and vetted on this credible site; while Hurricane Irma charities are similarly treated on this one.

Not in any way inconsistent with this moral reaction to the hurricanes is a pedagogical one: to bring the attention, media coverage, writing and thinking about, and latent issues within these thunderous acts of nature just prior to the school year into your classrooms early in the school year.  This post will discuss an approach that we are taking with partner schools.


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.


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.