So I’m reviewing with my students Argumentative Writing. It’s a thing we did earlier in the year, which obviously I taught so brilliantly that they all forgot it. Because what I teach STICKS. Clearly. (Hey, kids. That there’s what we call IRONY.)
But then this thing happened. I got an IDEA. I asked my students to raise hands if they had strong feelings about candy. All the hands went up. Because of course they did. I picked 2 kids. I gave one a KitKat bar and one a tube/package of Starburst. I told those two kids that they were the candy experts, and they were each going to present their expertise to the class. I told them they’d make a claim and back their claim with evidence.
Then I told the class to get out note paper, because NOTES. This is not the area in which I excel, in case you were wondering, the note-making. Each student would write the claims and evidence from both of the presenters.
First Kid got up and said, “KitKat is the best candy, because it is made of chocolate. It has exciting texture, and you can share it with your friends.” Students wrote down “CLAIM: KitKat is the best candy. Evidence 1: Chocolate. Evidence 2: Texture. Evidence 3: Share-able.”
Second Kid stood and said, “Starburst is the best candy, because it’s a juicy mouthful of bliss. There are 4 flavors in each package, and you can carry it in your pocket without making a mess.” Students wrote down “CLAIM: Starburst is the best candy. Evidence 1: Juicy/flavor. Evidence 2: Variety. Evidence 3: Portable.”
Then I had each kid put a star (in their notes) by the claim and evidence that seemed strongest. This became their claim. The one without a star became their counterclaim. Then I had them fill in this little thesis sentence key: Although (COUNTERCLAIM), (CLAIM + 3 EVIDENCES). So if they starred KitKat, their thesis sentence would look like this: “Although many people enjoy Starburst, KitKat is the superior candy because it is made of chocolate, it has an interesting texture, and it can be shared among friends.”
If they starred Starburst, they wrote a thesis sentence that looked a little like this: “Although KitKat is a popular treat, Starburst’s flavor, variety, and portability make it the world’s best candy.”
Then they took their thesis sentence and built an outline around it (assuming that their actual sources said more than two sentences).
Then I made them do the same thing with actual articles arguing 2 sides of an actual, non-candy-related issue. Fun, right? I’m getting the hang of this.