Permalink Reply by James Prothero on September 12, 2009 at 11:27am I figure they've all seen the cop and lawyer shows forever. I tell them that they are a lawyer arguing a case. The thesis is the opening statement, the body is the presentation of evidence and the conclusion is the summation to the jury. This helps some of them, because they recognize the structure and can visualize it. But it's just a hard concept and nothing gets it quick and easy. Keep at it. Sometimes it takes a while for the light to come on for some kids.
Permalink Reply by Tanya on September 13, 2009 at 8:21pm I have used a game called "warrant this." I assign students to two sides of an argument and ask each student to bring three pieces of textual evidence that they believe supports their side of the argument. Then, I divide the class into the two groups, or teams. The teams share their evidence and choose the strongest pieces of evidence. Then each team takes turns presenting their evidence, with no analysis, or warrant. If the other team can provide a warrant that would make the evidence seem to support their side they get to "take" that evidence. Students soon see that evidence, without explanation, can often be "spun" by either side in an argument for their own purposes.
I tell the students never to leave a "naked" quote in their writing. They must include an indication of the quote's significance or, "dress" the quote. The best way to do this is to quote less than a whole sentence. I'll give you an example I use. It's from a literary essay (Rip Van Winkle), but I think it shows the point.
NAKED: Rip comes home to a different town. "Rip looked and beheld a precise counterpart of himself as he went up the mountain, apparently as lazy and certainly as ragged." He doesn't know what to think of all the changes.
MEDIOCRE: "Rip looked and beheld a precise counterpart of himself as he went up the mountain, apparently as lazy and certainly as ragged." He cannot understand that this is his son, now grown.
SKILLED: When Rip sees his son, who is "a precise counterpart of himself as he went up the mountain," his confusion mounts.