How many times have you heard a student say “because,” or use subjective reasoning when asked to support an argument? These are just a few of the common struggles students have when developing and communicating arguments. Developing arguments requires students to engage multiple critical thinking skills as they generate extended definitions of concepts, articulate warrants, establish criteria, and, ultimately, defend a conclusion or judgment. Argument also involves scrutiny of one’s own values and beliefs as well as the capacity to engage in productive dialogue with others whose values and beliefs differ from our own. The many important skills of argument apply across disciplines and can be addressed at any stage in a middle- or high-school student’s educational career, as he or she engages in increasingly demanding cognitive tasks.
In this course, the teacher will learn best practices for engaging students in rich processes and procedures for argument development, from class-wide inquiries, to small-group data analysis, to individual writing tasks. By the end of the course, the teacher will be able to support students, regardless of their specific learning needs, as they learn to argue relevant concerns with increasing complexity and express their arguments elegantly and logically, making “because” a thing of the past.