Select a topic included in your weekly readings. (AT THE BOTTOM)
Analyze the outside research of at least three professional essays focused on the topic you have selected.
Write a 700- to 800 word critical argument analysis essay that focuses on three professional essays. Focus on how these authors construct their arguments using opinion and evidence.
Note. The essay should not be on the topic--instead, you will need to focus on the essays you have read on the topic.
Consider the following questions to guide your thinking and writing:
- Are the author's arguments strong?
- Do they prove the author's thesis statement?
- Are there any weaknesses in the essay? What are they and why are they weak? Is one essay stronger than the others? Why?
- How effective do the authors use evidence to back up their opinions? Address other questions that occur to you.
Use two of the principles of organization and presentation to shape this critical persuasive argument analysis essay.
Format your paper consistent with APA
SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS WITH EVIDENCE
This year, the “Nudging Toward Inquiry” columns are examining opportunities to partner inquiry-oriented research with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This month’s column focuses on building arguments and supporting them with evidence, a learning goal found throughout the English Language Arts (ELA) standards at the elementary and secondary levels. Overview Librarians and CCSS: Is This About Us? Librarians contribute to the literacy trajectory of their students, and they are not excluded from CCSS responsibility, because “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school” (CCSS 2010, 4). Additionally, “each standard need not be a separate focus for instruction and assessment. Often, several standards can be addressed by a single rich task” (CCSS 2010, 5). These statements give librarians the license and opportunity to engage with CCSS. What Do CCSS Say about Arguments and Evidence? By “arguments,” the CCSS architects do not mean disagreements; rather, they refer to statements that are strengthened by the use of supporting evidence. The introductory matter of the English Language Arts (ELA) standards state: [T]he Standards also lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century… the skills and understandings… have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace. Students… reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic (CCSS 2010, 3, emphasis added). The bar is high, but the idea of habitual “cogent reasoning” aligns with librarians’ belief in the power of independent, lifelong learning and information literacy skills. More definition is provided in the document’s “portrait of students” which states: Students cite specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text. They use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking, making their reasoning clear to the reader or listener, and they constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence (CCSS 2010, 7). Note that evidence is considered from several angles. Students should be able to: ▶provide evidence to support textual interpretation ▶support their personal points of view, and ▶be able to evaluate others’ use of evidence. Each of these is compatible with librarians’ commitment to developing the evaluation and knowledge construction skills of their students. Strategies Staff Meeting Discussion: Research Projects Build Evidence Skills “Arguments with evidence,” as well as the CCSS focus on career and college readiness, gives librarians an opening to discuss how moving research projects from fact-sharing to more robust inquiry is now an imperative, not an option. Real-world work includes inquiry and justification of one’s stance; additionally, the ability to evaluate how others construct their arguments is an important component of resource evaluation. Evidence Begins during Storytime… And Continues Klentschy recommends “because” as a way to connect scientific hypotheses with a student’s prior knowledge (2008). Imagine the classic kindergarten lesson in which students experiment with pumpkins in water. When a student says, “I think the pumpkin will sink in water,” the instructor does not know if the student is guessing or basing the predicinto the curriculum | n u d ging t o war d in q u ir y SCHOOL LIBRARY MONTHLY | VOLUME 29 | NUMBER 7 | APRIL 2013 53 tion on past experiences or existing knowledge. When the student adds “because,” her hypothesis becomes, “I think the pumpkin will sink in water because it is heavy,” which adds insight to the student’s thinking process. “Because” provokes a student to provide evidence. The same principle applies during interactive storytime, where making predictions is a common discussion activity. A simple shift will develop the students’ habit of supporting their opinion with evidence. Add, “Use ‘because’ in your answer” to the question. This transforms students’ answers from, “The bear!” to, “The bear, because I see him in the side panels.” As students move into their first inquiry projects, the word “because” ports easily into their research conclusions and reveals comprehension strengths and gaps. Ask, “How did you figure out that your animal was a vegetarian?” The answer, “I knew it because the word ‘vegetarian’ was in the book” will reveal a different thinking path from “I knew it because the book listed fruit, nuts, and berries in the Diet section.” The Multimedia Challenge: Shifting from Episodic to Structured Work Slideshow presentations have a tendency to move students into an episodic style of organization. Each slide introduces a new idea, often tenuously connected to the preceding or following idea instead of building to a powerful overarching idea. Episodic projects can demonstrate that students have a working knowledge of a topic, but such findings are insufficient and fall on a low level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, trapping students at the “remembering” level instead of pushing them higher to levels like “Analyzing” or “Evaluating” (Overbaugh & Schultz n.d.). AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner envisions students who can “construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge” (AASL 2007, 2.1.1) and “employ a critical stance in drawing conclusions by demonstrating that the pattern of evidence leads to a decision or conclusion” (AASL 2007, 2.2.3). In designing multimedia projects with teachers, it can be easy for tool fluency to take priority over content and structure; evidence-related skills should be researched for each grade level and brought into the research project. The Five-Paragraph Essay and the Five-Sentence Paragraph Still Work A low-stress way for students to successfully develop structured arguments is to return to classic writing forms such as the five-sentence paragraph and the five-paragraph essay. An easy “crash course” in formal writing is the Write for Power system developed by J. E. Sparks (1982), known today as Power Writing or Writing with Power.