Friday, April 26, 2013

Persuasion OUT Argumentation IN

Historically, teachers in upper elementary and middle schools have focused on teaching students three types of writing: expository, narrative, and persuasive.  With the adoption of Common Core State Standards, teachers will be making some major changes in how we teach writing to students.  One of those changes for me was to forget about teaching persuasion and to start teaching argumentation.

This week, my students delved into their first piece of argumentative writing.  Augmentative writing requires logic and reasoning as opposed to persuasive writing which relies on an emotional appeal.  In order to get my students to understand this distinction, I gave them a writing assignment on an authentic and relevant topic.  Students wrote about the impact of learning a second language.  (The foreign language teachers at my school can thank me later.)  Students were not writing to persuade the reader to think a certain way about learning a second language.  Instead, they were writing to inform the reader about the impact that learning a second language has on students.  

What I witnessed was amazing!  Students were elbow-deep in articles about modern foreign language education, digging for evidence to support their claims.  Students began the assignment by analyzing a variety of texts so that they could evaluate whether or not the information would be useful in their writing.   Some students even tossed out articles littered by opinions and unsupported facts because they were taught to include concrete evidence to support their claims.  Students were actually excited about their research!

Writing research-based arguments is exactly what these students will be expected to do in college, and I have really enjoyed introducing this important skill to my students. This is just one example of the many shifts that will take place as a result of the Common Core.  What are your thoughts about how the Common Core State Standards will affect teaching and learning in our schools?

1 comment:

Svetlana Sutic said...

Your students made an incredible shift in their thinking not only in their writing! Why? Because the activity you created to teach argument writing was first based in authentic application of reading. This is key to motivating students to understand the real life application for learning. The connection between what they DO in school, IS the same in real life. Students don’t always see that connection unless it is made explicitly through lessons that are based in authentic tasks. Your students were reading with the authentic purpose of finding information that would help inform their argument. The writing was directly related to their reading which made it relevant! Another authentic transferable skill they learned was to become consumers of information. How important and difficult is that in this age of Facebook, Wikipedia, and numerous other social media avenue’s! We need to help students’ navigate this terrain of information and show them how to turn it into an advantage for real life application.
The common core is asking our students to be critical thinkers and consumers of information who can apply what they learn into intelligent, articulate, well informed communication in both verbal and written form.
Lessons like yours engage and involve students to not just learn, but to want to learn so they can DO!
YEAH for all of you!!