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Argument

SHARED ASSUMPTIONS

Let’s say you’re writing a paper in favor of race-based affirmative action. Should you start, “Since whites enjoy economic advantages over blacks, black teens are less likely than white teens to have their parents encourage them to go to college.”

What might you actually have to prove in this sentence that right now you’re just assuming?
– That in general, whites are better off than blacks
– That there is a correlation between how wealthy someone is and how likely she is to encourage
her child to go to college

DIRECTIONS: For each sentence, assume that the underlined portion doesn’t have proof elsewhere in the paper. Decide whether it can stand on its own. If it needs more proof, write an example of acceptable “proof” (make up a fact and a source). Everyone in your group must agree before you go on to the next question.

1. Since the KKK is an organization that commits violent acts upon African-Americans, they regularly
violate other people’s civil rights.

2. Another reason why women should not be allowed to serve in combat is that they are not physically as strong as men.

3. Since a cross is an important religious symbol to many Americans, it can be considered a form of
“speech.”

4. The Pledge of Allegiance is a significant part of our nation’s history, and to eliminate it from
schools would be to go against history.

5. Since Oregon’s schools have been in financial trouble lately, politicians have proposed many measures
to help them get on track.
6. Even though most people who commit terrorist acts in the United States are Middle Eastern men, racial
profiling is still unfair.

Kathryne TafollaYoung, WR121, Sec 14

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Communities Activity

1. Concepts and/or Skills: identifying arguable issues, developing a topic, using exploratory
writing to further develop a claim

2. Activity: Finding Arguable Issues Within Your Communities

3. Time Range: approximately 40-50 minutes

4. Brief Description and Learning Outcomes: Students will generate a list of the communities they
belong to and then generate a list of significant issues that affect members of those
communities. This exercise is based on the “Identifying Arguable Issues” exercise in the Allyn &
Bacon text (211), but contains variations for more specific topic development.

5. Suggested Units/Assignments: Classical Argument, Researched Proposal

6. Necessary Materials and/or Preparation:
Reading: Allyn & Bacon Chapter 8: “Writing a Classical Argument”

7. Step-by-Step Explanation:

Instructions to students:
1. Write a list of communities that you belong to. These can be geographical, ethnic, work,
hobbies, etc. Everyone has communities they are aligned with. For example, you may be a smoker,
adopted, Japanese-American, a waiter, a musician, a citizen of Hialeah, an FIU student, a car
owner/driver, a voter in Miami-Dade County, a Facebook user, a cell phone user, a parent, etc.

[When students are finished, ask them to volunteer to share some of the communities they listed. This often helps other students in the class to realize other communities that they too are a part of.]

2. Brainstorm the contested issues in each of these communities. These should not be private issues
between members, but community issues that would have significance to your reader. For example,
what issues affect you as an FIU student? As a smoker? As a driver in Miami-Dade? Try to come up
with more than one issue per community.

Consider the following:
-What contested questions cause disagreements?
-What decisions need to be made?
-What values are in conflict?
-What problems need to be solved?

[Again, share issues as a class]

3. Choose two or three of these issues and free-write or outline responses to the following
questions:
-What are alternative points of view on this issue?
-Why do people disagree about his issue?
-Do I currently have a position on the issue? If so, what is it?
-What evidence would I need to gather and what research might I need to do to formulate an opinion on the issue or support my current position?

[If time permits, have students share some of their responses to #3 as well.]

8. Tips:
-This exercise is often most useful at the beginning of the Classical Argument or Researched Proposal unit, as it provides students with a variety of issues and prompts them to do some exploratory writing about their positions on those issues.

-This exercise could easily be modified for an online or hybrid format. It could be started in class and finished online, and also paired with a more formal feedback process via students posting responses to their classmates’ topic ideas.

9. Source of Reference:
-Bean, John C., June Johnson, and John D. Ramage. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to
Writing, Custom Edition for Florida International University. 4th ed. New York:
Pearson Education Inc., 2010. 211. Print.

-Additional material: Nick Vagnoni, instructor; Jeff Wehr, instructor

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