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New LDC White Paper Arriving Soon: Teaching Students to Comprehend, Critique, and Construct Arguments

November 14th, 2017

Nicole Barrick Renner supports the ongoing development and improvement of LDC’s core content, including task templates, rubrics, curriculum resources, and student work. Prior to joining LDC, Nicole worked as a performance assessment and ELA content specialist at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), focusing on building educators’ assessment literacy through professional development and technical support.Always an English teacher at heart, she began her career teaching high school English with a focus on PBL and Paideia Seminar at East Nashville Magnet School in Tennessee. Nicole holds an M.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. She also holds an M.A. and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia.

“The ability to make a reasoned case for ideas is the surest pathway for preparing students to succeed in college and career settings and to participate in a democratic society.” - P. David Pearson

I read a Wall Street Journal article recently whose headline proclaimed, “The Age of 1,000 Streaming Services Is Upon Us—And It’s Going to Get Ugly.” The article was about television, but it struck me as a useful metaphor for something larger. Students swim every day through a constant, relentless stream—of information, ideas, images, and arguments. Without guidance and a strong set of tools for navigating these rapids, it can indeed get ugly. It is all too easy for students and adults alike to become exhausted by the tide and simply float where the current takes us, consuming and repeating information uncritically.

Good students, good workplace colleagues, and good citizens all need to be able to understand and convey complex information, judge the credibility of sources, and evaluate arguments for their validity and relevance (American Diploma Project, 2004). In short, they need to be able to comprehend, critique, and construct persuasive arguments.  

To that end, we are excited to announce the upcoming January 2018 release of a new LDC white paper on teaching argumentation, developed with renowned literacy expert P. David Pearson and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education.  

Dr. Pearson and his team immersed themselves in the best available research and resources on argumentation and condensed their findings into a handy guide to the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching argument, addressing topics such as:

  • The differences among argument, opinion, and persuasion

  • Common features of academic arguments across disciplines

  • Unique features of disciplinary arguments within science, social studies, and English language arts, including:

    • The kinds of topics and questions each discipline makes claims about

    • What each discipline values as evidence

    • The structures and rhetoric used to develop well-reasoned arguments in each discipline

The paper also includes a compact set of practical resources for creating and scaffolding literacy-based argumentation assignments in K–12 classrooms, including:

  • A glossary of argumentation terms

  • Sample argumentation assignments aligned to common core standards

  • An annotated bibliography of public, free resources for teaching argumentation

  • Learning progressions to guide appropriate scaffolding of argumentation assignments across grade levels.

This paper is the first in a series of LDC argumentation tools to come in 2018; look for more announcements of resources to support you in handing your students oars and teaching them how to navigate the stream!



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