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Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12: Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning Illustrated Edition
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"In this book, George Hillocks teaches us not only what an argument is, but how to teach it and why we should. Essential reading for those preparing ALL students to think critically, write well, and succeed academically in both high school and college."
Jim Burke, Author of The English Teacher's Companion and
What's the Big Idea?
Argument writing can be difficult to teach, but it may be the most important set of skills we teach in English. According to the National Common Core Standards, by the end of high school, students should be able to write arguments to support claims with clear reason and relevant evidence-and they should be able to do so well.
Designed for middle and high school students, the activities in this book will enable students to write strong arguments and evaluate the arguments of others. When they are through, students will be able, as the Common Core Standards ask, to "Delineate and evaluate [an] argument and specific claims...including the validity of the reasoning [and] the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence." Developed by George Hillocks, Jr. and others in diverse inner city classrooms in Chicago, students are easily engaged in the lively problem-solving approach detailed in this book.
Teaching Argument Writing begins with how to teach simple arguments and moves onto those that are more complex, showing step-by-step how to teach students to write and evaluate:
- arguments of fact
- arguments of judgment
- arguments of policy
Student handouts, activities, and models of classroom discussions are provided to help you bring these methods to your classroom. Among other things, Hillocks guides you through teaching your students:
- how judgments are made in the real world
- how to make literary judgments based on criteria
- how to develop and support criteria for arguments.
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About the Author
- Publisher : Heinemann; Illustrated edition (March 21, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0325013969
- ISBN-13 : 978-0325013961
- Reading age : 11 - 17 years
- Grade level : 6 - 12
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #308,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Written for Grades 6-12, the book follows a progressively more difficult agenda. Hillocks starts with the basics of argument writing, including "whodunit" cartoons for arguments of fact. Kids scrutinize the drawings of murder scenes and draw conclusions based on visual details, trying their ideas out in group discussions. Such "fun" work is teaching them the relationships between evidence, claims, "warrants" or rules (e.g. "As a rule, when people fall down stairs, they drop what they are carrying to save themselves."), and conclusions. The mystery solving is followed by writing exercises, wherein the conclusions of the students are carefully justified in paragraph form. Hillocks provides a chart to ensure that all elements of good argument writing are logged.
From here, Hillock moves to simple arguments of judgment (he uses examples of what makes a good school mascot and what makes a good leader) and simple arguments of policy (here the students gather data on gum chewing). The latter example is especially good because the students do not simply jump on-line to cut and paste (yes, and sometimes plagiarize) material. Instead, students create their own data by interviewing the principal and custodians on the reasons for forbidding gum on school grounds plus its costs in time and money. They also create a survey to find out why students stick gum under chairs and desks or throw it on the floor. Invested? I guess! And it's so much better than the dreary Google search method of research. You'll think so, too, as you read Hillocks account of the students wrestling data into a logical, coherent form in an attempt to change the principal's mind.
In the second part of the book, Hillocks moves to more complex arguments of judgment. Using transcripts from classes along with ready-to-go handouts, he shows how students grappled with developing criteria about such abstract terms as "courage" and "freedom of speech." Numerous scenarios are provided, complete with instructions on how to use them and how it went in Hillocks' classes. To wrap up, he takes the skills students hone in argument writing and shows you how they can be applied to literary analysis. This final chapter is regrettably brief, but if you consider it a "bonus" chapter and remind yourself that the goal of this book is to focus on writing argument, you feel no reason to complain.
It's popular to say that technology is the key to changing education in the future, but I see technology is a mere tool. What will really change teaching and make it relevant to kids is work like this. Updating technology, then, takes a backseat to updating teachers. This book is a classic example of one way you can do that. If you're a teacher -- the most important technology in any classroom -- you owe it a look.
This book put any uncertainty to bay, and guided me through the process with fun and engaging activities! It's a must in any 6-12 classroom.