Making Arguments Stronger: How to Get Students to Consider All Sides of an Issue

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

By Patricia A. Dunn

Whether students compose arguments for tests or for real-world genres such as online petitions, public service announcements, complaints to manufacturers, letters to editors, etc., their writing would be more persuasive if they acknowledged and understood opposing views. As more and more people today shield themselves from positions with which they disagree (by limiting their news channels and social media feeds), how can students learn to open the minds of those who don’t already agree with them? The first canon of ancient rhetoric—invention (exploring an issue thoroughly)—can help.

What is Invention, and Why Do We Need It for Writing?

Ancient rhetoricians designed invention strategies to help speakers understand and consider many sides to an issue, not simply to address the concerns of opponents but to possibly negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to a problem. We know invention today mostly through “pre-writing” exercises that help students think…

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Forming Habits of Mind in Young Writers through Research and Inquiry

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

by Ann D. David and Megan Janak

Writing in Room 103

  • How big is a blue whale really? Is it bigger than our room?
  • Who would win in head to head race, a tiger or a cheetah?
  • Are naked mole rats really naked?

First graders inquire, and as their teacher, I work to draw upon their desire to know more about their interests using writing inside Room 103. So as we embarked upon a research and inquiry-based unit of study, my writers were enthusiastic to become experts in new areas and not in the least bit hesitant or concerned about the work they were to face because of their existing workshop knowledge and experience. We had been living a writing cycle in our collective writerly life.

Since the first day of school, my first graders have seen themselves as part of a community of writers who read, write, and think…

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