05 Dec

Unit Assessment: The Use of Evidence in Interpreting ‘Catcher in the Rye’

Les Lynn Argument and Literacy, Assessment, Resources, The Debatifier

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.


01 Dec

Analyzing a Model Interpretive Argument on ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’

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

At one of Argument-Centered Education’s partner schools, Daniel Hale Williams College Prep in Chicago, I have been working extensively this year with a young and rising-star English teacher by the name of Thom Connor. Mr. Connor has been absorbing argument pedagogy and he has been making it his own, innovating a series of activities and assessments with his English I (9th grade), English II (10th grade), and AP Language & Composition (11th grade) students.  I have been collaborating with him on revising and refining these resources.  What is coming out of his inventions, and our collaborations, is having an increasingly apparent big impact on the teaching and learning in his classrooms.  One such resource innovation is the activity we’ve called Analyzing a Model Interpretive Argument.


27 Nov

The Great War and Academic Argument

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

World War I was cataclysmic not only in the death and destruction it wrought on the battlefield (with more than 10 million killed), but also in its shattering in the Western world (certainly in Europe) of certain kind of belief in the nobility of civilization and the inevitability of progress.  “The war to end all wars,” in H.G. Wells’ immortal phrase, and the war that would “make the world safe for democracy,” according to President Woodrow Wilson — the idealism that inspired these phrases sounded bitterly ironic after the War, and by 1918 sardonic clouds had settled over the European psyche to stay.

This argument-based project teaches World War I through debates about the deepest causes of that conflict.  It brings together primary and secondary textual and video sources to teach content through the framework of academic argument.


15 Nov

Argumentalizing “Quick & Easy” Curriculum

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

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).