Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reading and Writing Argumentative Essays

Rob conferring with students

Below find resources for helping middle school and early high school students read essays that are calls for action and to write about topics of interest from an argumentative viewpoint.  Argumentative essays ask readers to take a stance and/or take an action.


1. Paired Essays:
The first text provides background and invites the reader/writer to begin thinking about the topic generally. The second essay is to be deconstructed to see how the writer constructs his/her argument.

  1. Does Technology Make Us More Alone? (from New York Times, 10.14.16)
  2. Leave Your Laptops at the Door to My Classroom (from New York Times, 1.2.17)
You are about to read an Opinion essay by a college professor who doesn’t allow students to take notes or otherwise use laptops in his classes. Think about how you best take notes. Do you write them with a pen or pencil, type them or do you have a different system? What role, if any, does distraction play when you use a computer or other device?

Author's Claim:
Counterclaim: 
  1. Trump’s Labor Pick, Andrew Puzder, Is Critic of Minimum Wage Increases (from New York Times, 12.8.16)
  2. Trump's Pick for Labor Secretary Doesn't Think Workers Should Get Breaks (From Mother Jones, 12.28.16)
But this isn't some exotic new political creed introduced by Trump. It's warmed-over Republicanism.
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. 7 real things you can do right now about the catastrophe in Aleppo. (from UpWorthy, 12.13.16)
  2. How the World Closed Its Eyes to Syria’s Horror’ (from New York Times, 12.14.16)
Have you been following 7-year-old Bana’s tweets and her story from Aleppo, Syria? Have you seen images or videos of other people there on the news or social media? What is happening in Aleppo now?
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. Teens are cutting back on drugs, alcohol, smoking and even electronic cigarettes, study finds (from Los Angeles Times, 12.12.16)
  2. Video: Surgeon General Raises E-Cigarette Concerns
  3. ‘Use of E-Cigarettes by Young People Is Major Concern, Surgeon General Declares’(from New York Times, 12.14.16)
Have you ever vaped or smoked a hookah? Do you know people who do? Watch this short video and then discuss with a classmate what you know about e-cigarettes from a personal, scientific and social standpoint.
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. The latest ranking of top countries in math, reading, and science is out — and the US didn't crack the top 10 (from Business Insider, 12.6.16)
  2. What America Can Learn About Smart Schools in Other Countries’ (from New York Times, 12.8.16)
The United States is among the world’s biggest per-student spenders on education, but its 15-year-olds still trail in math against peers in most developed countries.
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals (from New York Times, 3.11.16)
  2. Why Bilinguals Are Smarter   (from New York Times, 12.1.16)
Using two languages strengthens the brain...
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. Blue Feed, Red Feed: See Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook, Side by Side (from The Wall Street Journal
  2. Social Media’s Globe Shaking Power (from New York Times, 11.17.16)
How are social networks helping to to fundamentally rewire human society and even alter global events?
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. Origins of Agriculture (From Online Encyclopedia Britannica)
  2. How The First Farmers Changed History (from the New York Times, 10.17.16)
What is the agricultural revolution? How did it change our species and planet?
Claim:
Counterclaim:
  1. Disputes Over Environmental Impact of 'Fracking' Obscure its Future (from CNBC, 4.8.13)
  2. Sorting Through the Claims, Counterclaims About Environmental Impact of 'Fracking' (from CNBC News, 4.8.13)
Claim:
Counterclaim:


2. Claims, Claims, Claims
Read and view the following.  What claims are being made  What counterclaims?

  1. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Senior Counsel Lori Windham on a legal victory for common sense and public health. Photo credit: Associated Press. (Video from The Wall Street Journal, 1.4.17)
  2. Texas judge halts federal transgender health protections (AP Top News, 1.1.17)
  3. Judge blocks Obama mandate forcing doctors to perform abortions, transgender surgeries (from The Washington Times, 1.1.17)
  4. Transgender Patients May Suffer After Texas Judge Blocks Obama's Policy (from Governing, 1.3.17)



3. Revising an online essay

What might you do to make this article more persuasive?  What call to action would you include? What counterclaim would be important to consider?
We'll Never See These Animals Again (From Mother Jones, 12.31.16)


4. Writing prompts from the NY Times 

200 prompts for Argumentative Essay Writing
301 Prompts for Argumentative Writing
650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing

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