Criticizing the Critics: Evaluating an Argument By Producing a Thesis Statement
Lesson objective(s): Students will learn to critically engage the claims of a text through analysis and evaluation.
Total estimated time: 60 minutes.
Additional outcome(s): Students will practice “active” reading.
Course work or assignment underway: Sustained discussion of food politics, with extensive readings.
Work and/or reading completed before class:
Students have read and commented on Michael Pollan’s “Unhappy Meals.”
Sequence of Classroom Activities
1. Students are asked to locate a single paragraph in the Pollan piece that they disagree with (5 minutes).
2. As a class, read through several choices students have made, and discuss why the student disagrees. Once the student articulates their differences, brainstorm about how best to organize these ideas into a counter-argument. This is a great opportunity to highlight the difference between opinion and evidence-based argument (15 minutes).
3. Have students choose their own paragraphs from Pollan and then write a thesis statement they would use to counter his arguments (15 minutes).
4. Have students share their work with the class (25 minutes).
5. Critique each thesis paragraph based on legibility, creativity and strength of argument.
6. Have students use these theses for homework to begin original research.
Download: Food_Predraft4_EvaluatinganArgument (doc)