ENGLISH 4 : MODULE 04 : LESSON 02 INTRO: THE ANATOMY OF AN ARGUMENT

Question 1(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.02 LC)

A counterclaim

ends a discussion
agrees with the evidence
disagrees with a position
starts the research
Question 2(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.02 LC)

Which audience is Michelle Obama most likely addressing in these remarks?

Instead of just a few hours of cartoons on weekends, there are entire networks devoted to children’s programming. Instead of kickball and jump rope, kids sit motionless, unblinking for hours clicking, typing and texting away. Fresh fruits and vegetables have gotten more expensive, while convenience foods have gotten cheaper. And let’s be honest sometimes, as parents today, we are just plain tired. We’re working longer hours to make ends meet. We’re under more stress.

Parents
Children
Teachers
Doctors
Question 3(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.02 LC)

A claim is

a starting point for an argument
the opposition to an argument
an ending of an argument
the evidence to refute an argument
Question 4(Multiple Choice Worth 10 points)
(04.02 LC)

What is a rebuttal?

A statement that diminishes the counterclaim because it is flawed
A statement that supports the counterclaim because it is logical
A statement that ignores the counterclaim because it is emotional
A statement that repeats the counterclaim because it makes sense

Question 6(Multiple Choice Worth 15 points)
(04.02 HC)

In a speech delivered to parents on the launch anniversary of the “Let’s Move” program, Michelle Obama made this claim:

“So we’re making some real progress here. We’re gaining momentum. But as far as we’ve come, when nearly one in three kids in this country is still overweight or obese then we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Which of these statements shows an acknowledgment of a counterclaim to her position?

“All of us desperately want to keep our kids healthy. But often, we just don’t know-how. Kids don’t come with an instruction manual. And while we all get plenty of advice to make sure our kids eat well and stay active what does that really mean?”
“And through Let’s Move Cities and Towns, 500 mayors have committed to tackling obesity in their communities. They’re building bike paths, they’re planting gardens, they’re starting youth sports leagues and so much more.”
“And today, we’re seeing better, clearer labels on beverage cans and many other products in our grocery stores. You asked for better food in your kids’ schools—the kind of balanced meals you’re trying to make at home.”
“I didn’t know a single child in my neighborhood who was allowed to eat whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. If you wanted a snack, you’d have to ask permission and whatever you got was limited.”

Question 8 (Essay Worth 15 points)

(04.02 MC)

Write a short counterclaim for the claim Michelle Obama is making in these remarks to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

So this isn’t surprising when studies show that even a single commercial can impact a child’s brand preferences—and that kids who see foods advertised on TV are significantly more likely to ask for them at the store.

So whatever we believe about personal responsibility and self-determination, I think we can all agree that it doesn’t apply to kids.

I think we can all agree that parents need more control over the products and messages their kids are exposed to. Parents are working hard to provide a healthy diet and to teach healthy habits—and we’d like to know that our efforts won’t be undermined every time our children turn on the TV or see a flashy display in a store.

Question 7 (Essay Worth 15 points)

(04.02 MC)

Paraphrase the claim Michelle Obama is making in these remarks from the PHA Building a Healthier Future Summit:

And remember, when we talk about giving parents better information, we’re not just talking about obvious things like food labels. We’re also talking about the more subtle messages that shape our decisions every day. Whether, for example, restaurant menus feature mouthwatering pictures of healthy or unhealthy items. Whether a product is shelved right at eye level or lower to the ground, where you have to bend over and reach it, and if you’re bending over, you’re not going to get it. (Laughter.) Whether the produce aisle is the first aisle to greet you when you enter the store, or the last aisle you pass on your way out when you’re already running late to get home for the babysitter.

I mean, that is all a part of the information landscape that shapes our choices every day. And going forward, we all need to make sure that these strategies are part of our efforts to improve the health of families in this country. We all need to focus on that.

Question 5(Multiple Choice Worth 15 points)
(04.02 HC)

Consider Michelle Obama’s comment to parents on the launch anniversary of the Let’s Move program:

“We know that kids are like little sponges they soak up everything they see and hear, regardless of where it comes from. They want the gadget they saw at a friend’s house, the sugary snacks they saw on TV. So we know that if we truly want to solve the issue of childhood obesity, parents can’t shoulder this burden alone, and we shouldn’t have to.”

Which of these statements would provide a possible rebuttal to this statement?

“But at the same time, we know that ultimately, we are the ones responsible for what our kids eat. We’re responsible for how much time they spend on the couch with that remote control. While we might not always feel like it, when it comes to our kids’ health and well-being, we’re the ones in charge.”
“But doing so doesn’t just respond to people’s natural inclinations—it also actually helps to shape them. And this can be particularly dangerous when it comes to our kids, because as all of you know, as parents, the more of these products they have in their diets, the more accustomed they become to those tastes, and then the more deeply embedded these foods become in their eating habits.”
“But here’s the good news: It can also work the other way around as well. Just as we can shape our children’s preferences for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods—with a lot of persistence, we can also turn them on to high-quality, healthier foods as well.”
But here’s the thing—we can build shiny new supermarkets on every block, but we need those supermarkets to actually provide healthy options at prices people can afford. And we can insist that our schools serve better food, but we need to actually produce that food.
Parts of the Whole
Argumentation starts with two basic elements: claim and counterclaim.

Claim: The claim is the starting point for any argument. It states your position so others know where you stand on a certain issue.

Counterclaim: The counterclaim is the statement of the reasons people might view the issue differently.

For example:

Claim Counterclaim
Social media is a detriment to society because people are losing the ability to connect and communicate in reality. Social media is an asset to society because people are able to create broad communication networks that enhance social and professional connections.
Communicating in 140 characters or less has successfully challenged people to express themselves in a creatively succinct way. Communicating in 140 characters or less encourages people to share short, uninteresting comments about frivolous things.
Claim
Watch this excerpt from Michelle Obama’s opening remarks at the opening session of 2010 Childhood Obesity Forum. Listen carefully to the way she addresses the complexity of the issue.

SHOW INTERACTIVE

Childhood Obesity—Text Version
This gathering has never happened before at the White House. It’s one where we’re bringing together teachers and child advocates, doctors and nurses, business leaders, public servants, researchers, and health experts to talk about one of the most serious and difficult problems facing our kids today, and that is the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country.

We’re here because we all care deeply about the health and well-being of America’s children. And we’ve gathered folks from across America and across just about every relevant field because, in the end, solving this problem is going to take every single one of us.

And that’s really at the heart of the “Let’s Move” campaign.

We launched this campaign two months ago, but the idea actually was inspired by the planting of the White House Kitchen Garden.

Last March, with the help of local students who have been so incredible, we planted the garden on the South Lawn of the White House, and it allowed us to begin a conversation about the importance not just of healthy eating – eating right, eating the good food – but also about getting exercise into our lives.

The kids, during that whole year of planting and harvesting, showed so much enthusiasm, so much excitement about that garden and about the potential of the topic that we realized there was an opportunity to do much more, because they were so open.

So we launched “Let’s Move.” The campaign is designed to raise awareness about the problem of childhood obesity and to focus on how we as a nation have to come together to solve it.

My husband signed a presidential memorandum creating the first-ever government-wide Task Force on Childhood Obesity, composed of representatives from key agencies across the government.

And since then, I have spoken to so many people. ’ve heard from so many people across this country.

I’ve met with mayors and governors, and I’ve asked them to do their part to build healthier cities and states.

I’ve met with School Nutrition Association members – the folks who decide what’s served in schools – and I’ve asked them to do their part to offer healthier meals and snacks to our kids at school.

I’ve met with the food manufacturers and asked them to do their part to improve the quality of the food that they provide and to do a better job of marketing nutritious food to our kids.

I’ve met with kids – met with a bunch of them the other day in my first town hall meeting, full of kids – (laughter) – and they were wonderful. And I asked them to do their part. I asked them nicely – (laughter) – but I asked them to do their part as well. What I told them is that they were the most important players in this piece because it’s up to them to make different decisions, to try to make it a little easier on their parents to try new things and to incorporate exercise.

And I’ve been meeting with parents, too, because we all need to do our parts, as well, because the fact is, is that our kids didn’t do this to themselves. They don’t decide the sugar content in soda or the advertising content of a television show. Kids don’t choose what’s served to them for lunch at school and shouldn’t be deciding what’s served to them for dinner at home And they don’t decide whether there’s time in the day or room in the budget to learn about healthy eating or to spend time playing outside.

We make those decisions. That’s all up to us.

And I know how hard it is. I know how hard it is as a parent when you’re bombarded by ads for junk food; when you’re hit with a barrage of conflicting stories about what’s healthy and what’s not; when you always feel like you’re failing to meet some impossible standard for working parents – or for any parents for that matter.

We also know how hard it is for schools to provide nutritious lunches with just a few dollars to make that happen. We know the budget constraints facing local governments in these tough times. And we all know how difficult this problem is when playgrounds and ballparks are competing with video games and social networking sites, and when our children are simply surrounded by many more opportunities to eat badly and to sit around than they are to eat well and move.

But we also know this—that over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. That is a fact. Nearly one third of children in America now are overweight or obese. That’s a reality. And unless we act now, things are only going to get worse. That is a fact.

Print

In Mrs. Obama’s address, she states a very clear position.

SHOW INTERACTIVE
Childhood Obesity—Text Version
In Mrs. Obama’s address, she states a very clear position.

What is her claim?

Which of the following statements best represents Mrs. Obama’s claim?

We’re here because we all care deeply about the health and well-being of America’s children.

Check your answer
My husband signed a presidential memorandum creating the first-ever government-wide Task Force on Childhood Obesity, composed of representatives from key agencies across the government.

Check your answer
We also know how hard it is for schools to provide nutritious lunches with just a few dollars to make that happen.

Check your answer
And I’ve been meeting with parents, too, because we all need to do our parts, as well, because the fact is, is that our kids didn’t do this to themselves.

Check your answer
Counterclaim
“Why don’t you take a look around? You know what’s about to happen, what they’re up against.”
—Luke Skywalker to Han Solo, Star Wars, 1977

Strong arguments acknowledge counterclaims—they demonstrate that you took the time to look around and find out what you are up against. Anticipating different views or responses to an issue and being able to respond to them is the key factor in a successful argument.

Why acknowledge the other side?

Watch this part of Mrs. Obama’s speech again to see if you can identify the counterclaims she addresses.

Childhood Obesity—Text Version

And I’ve been meeting with parents, too, because we all need to do our parts, as well, because the fact is, is that our kids didn’t do this to themselves. They don’t decide the sugar content in soda or the advertising content of a television show. Kids don’t choose what’s served to them for lunch at school and shouldn’t be deciding what’s served to them for dinner at home. And they don’t decide whether there’s time in the day or room in the budget to learn about healthy eating or to spend time playing outside.

We make those decisions. That’s all up to us.

And I know how hard it is. I know how hard it is as a parent when you’re bombarded by ads for junk food; when you’re hit with a barrage of conflicting stories about what’s healthy and what’s not; when you always feel like you’re failing to meet some impossible standard for working parents-or for any parents for that matter.

We also know how hard it is for schools to provide nutritious lunches with just a few dollars to make that happen. We know the budget constraints facing local governments in these tough times. And we all know how difficult this problem is when playgrounds and ballparks are competing with video games and social networking sites, and when our children are simply surrounded by many more opportunities to eat badly and to sit around than they are to eat well and move.

But we also know this—that over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. That is a fact. Nearly one third of children in America now are overweight or obese. That’s a reality. And unless we act now, things are only going to get worse. That is a fact.

Rebuttal

Claim and counterclaim are the basic foundations of an argument – you state your position and you acknowledge that there are other differing positions. Ideally, the logic and evidence you use to present your claim would sway someone to see things from your perspective. But sometimes people need more information.

In those cases, you need to directly address the counterclaim to show that it is flawed or incorrect. This is called a rebuttal – Think of it as, “I understand what you are saying, but…”

Watch this part of Mrs. Obama’s speech again to identify her rebuttal of the counterclaims.

Childhood Obesity—Text Version

And I’ve been meeting with parents, too, because we all need to do our parts, as well, because the fact is, is that our kids didn’t do this to themselves. They don’t decide the sugar content in soda or the advertising content of a television show. Kids don’t choose what’s served to them for lunch at school and shouldn’t be deciding what’s served to them for dinner at home. And they don’t decide whether there’s time in the day or room in the budget to learn about healthy eating or to spend time playing outside.

We make those decisions. That’s all up to us.

And I know how hard it is. I know how hard it is as a parent when you’re bombarded by ads for junk food; when you’re hit with a barrage of conflicting stories about what’s healthy and what’s not; when you always feel like you’re failing to meet some impossible standard for working parents-or for any parents for that matter.

We also know how hard it is for schools to provide nutritious lunches with just a few dollars to make that happen. We know the budget constraints facing local governments in these tough times. And we all know how difficult this problem is when playgrounds and ballparks are competing with video games and social networking sites, and when our children are simply surrounded by many more opportunities to eat badly and to sit around than they are to eat well and move.

But we also know this—that over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. That is a fact. Nearly one-third of children in America now are overweight or obese. That’s a reality. And unless we act now, things are only going to get worse. That is a fact.

The Audience

The audience is an invisible element in the process of argumentation, meaning that how you present your argument is just as important as what you present. In developing a successful argument, you must consider the audience.

If you want people to consider your point of view, you must approach them with respect.

It is the difference between this:

“Look, I have a big problem with your ideas about how we should address the issue of obesity in America. You couldn’t be more wrong.”

And this:

“I see we disagree about the issue of obesity, I would like to sit down with you to discuss our differing perspectives.”

Additionally, if you want people to see your way of thinking, you have to relate to them. Knowing what people are interested in or concerned about will allow you to appropriately appeal to pathos in your argument.

For instance, if you wanted to address the issue of obesity with parents, you would use information that relates to their children’s health:

Did you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, children and adolescents who are obese are at a greater risk for both physical problems and social and psychological problems like poor self-esteem?

If you wanted to address the issue with a corporation that manufactures junk food, you would use information that relates to profits:

Did you know that, according to a study conducted by the Hudson Institute in 2011, companies that produce foods that are viewed as “better for you” grew faster and had higher profits over the last five years?

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