ENGLISH 4 : MODULE 04 : LESSON 05 INTRO: PREPARING YOUR ARGUMENT

Introduction

You have spent time studying the arguments put forth by politicians and columnists in regard to government involvement in public health. Now is your chance to develop your own argument. In this lesson, you will conduct preliminary research to inform your position on your choice of one of the following topics:

Is college necessary for a successful future?
Should the use of plastic (ie: straws, bags) be banned in consumer markets?
Are our homeschool students at a disadvantage compared to public school students?
Has technology negatively affected our ability to communicate with each other?
Should high school students be required to take an online class in order to graduate?
Should the driving age be raised to 17 instead of 16?

Objectives

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

conduct a search to answer a research question
review multiple sources to develop a response to a research question
establish a claim and identify a counterclaim
Choose Your Position
To get an idea of how to choose your position, look at how Health coach Laura Pappas published a list of pros and cons for the New York soda ban on her blog “Against the Grain.” Review her comments. Use this list to inspire research for your own argument on the topic you selected. Remember, you may select one of these topics for research:

Is college necessary for a successful future?
Should the use of plastic (ie: straws, bags) be banned in consumer markets?
Are homeschool students at a disadvantage compared to public school students?
Has technology negatively affected our ability to communicate with each other?
Should high school students be required to take an online class in order to graduate?
Should the driving age be raised to 17 instead of 16?

Why the Ban is a Good Idea

Limits size: Limiting the size that you can purchase is better than banning the entire product. I see the size limit as a way of trying to educate people that there is a “reasonable amount” of soda that should be consumed in a sitting. While people won’t like it, maybe they will try to curb their thirst with healthier options, like water instead of sipping on sugary soda all day.

Raises Awareness: The size restriction will start to raise awareness that drinking large quantities of sugar sweetened beverages is not a good idea. When you drink soda, it causes your insulin to spike, giving you a burst of energy followed by a crash when the sugar is gone. When your body releases large amounts of insulin, which is a storage hormone, your body stores fat. And chronically high insulin is also a warning sign of Type 2 Diabetes.

Leads to weight loss?: Reducing the amount of soda that people drink may start to put a dent in the obesity epidemic. I don’t think that anyone can hang their hat on this containing it, but you have to start somewhere. This is a step in the right direction, but we need added awareness and education so that consumers know what that 16oz soda is doing to them, the detrimental effects of drinking sugar sweetened beverages (soda and others) in general, and what consuming them in excess does to your health

Why the Ban is a Bad Idea

We told you so: People don’t like being told what they can and cannot eat. This is a slippery slope too, which sounds like a good idea when you agree with the substance being regulated (here with the sugar sweetened beverages I completely agree). However, we don’t want to demonize food because a government or state claims that it isn’t healthy. In some ways the ban is restricting a consumer’s freedom of choice. However you can still buy soda and sugar sweetened beverages, but it will be in regulated sizes. If you want your 128oz Big Gulp you just have to get a few (EIGHT!) sodas instead of being able to fill a single serving bucket with that sugary substance.

Missing Diet Soda: Diet soda isn’t included in the ban, and neither is real fruit juice. Both of these things can be just as bad from an obesity perspective. Just because sugar from fruit is natural, doesn’t mean that your body perceives it any differently that the sugar or HFCS sweetened drinks that will have size limits. For diet sodas, fake sugar tricks your brain into thinking it’s starving, since you get the sugary taste and then wham, no calories?? Your body has no idea what to do with that information and often times causes weight gain instead of the desired weight loss – that’s why you’re drinking a diet soda in the first place right?

Lacking Education: While the ban infers that there are reasonable quantities of sugary drinks to consumer, I don’t necessarily agree that 16oz is a reasonable size and there isn’t any education about why the sugary drinks are to be limited to a certain size. Research and biochemistry show that sugar is causing our nation’s obesity epidemic and causing millions to struggle with Type 2 diabetes, at all ages, even kids are getting what used to be referred to as “adult onset” diabetes! We need to educate people so that they know how to make better choices.

Where’s the money?: The soda and beverage industry is obviously upset here since this law will limit their product and infers that there is something about these products that needs to be regulated and is therefore dangerous or bad in some way (think about what else is regulated: alcohol, cigarettes…) Plus the state of NY is touting their product as unhealthy and needing restriction. There is some concern from businesses related to sales, but wasn’t that the case when they banned smoking in bars as well? We’ll have to see what the size restriction does to the beverage market and if it makes a dent in profits.

Citation for source: Pappas, Laura. (2012, September 18). Should New York Ban Big Sodas? [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.laurapappashealth.com/2012/09/my-thoughts-on-the-nyc-soda-ban

If there is another debated topic in current events you would like to focus on for your research, please contact your instructor.

If there is another debated topic in current events you would like to focus on for your research, please contact your instructor.

informing Your Position

You previously learned that a strong argument is logical and informed by facts. How do you find those facts? Research, research, research.

Writers research to validate their ideas and conclusions. However, research is more than “Googling” a topic and sticking a few quotations in a paper. Researching is an important skill that will challenge an audience to listen, think, or act differently.

A President’s State of the Union Address is a high profile position statement delivered each year by the President of the United States. In that address, the President makes several arguments in hopes to garner support from Congress for certain legislative issues.

Watch this excerpt of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. What researched details support his claims?

President Obama’s State of the Union Address—Text Version

The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information — from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet.

Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.”

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.

So over the last two years, we’ve begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. And tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble those efforts.

Researched Details

South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do.
Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do.
China is building faster trains and newer airports.
Engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure as a “D.”
What would strengthen these details and increase their effectiveness in appealing to ethos?
Quoting specific research as support – how does he know that South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do? What report grades the nation’s infrastructure as a “D”?

Do you believe him just because he is the President? There are sources out there, like
FactCheck.org is devoted to “fact-checking” remarks made by politicians.

Research Tips
Previewing Sources
When you conduct research, it can be helpful to preview sources before using them. This will save time!

Electronic Sources

When you are researching electronic sources such as websites and databases, there are a few useful things you should look for:

subheadings
highlighted words
diagrams
graphics
photos
These details will help you understand the material you are researching better. If you see useful information in these sources, you may want to explore them further. If you do not see any of these useful things in a source, it might be better to move on to the next source on your list.

Print Sources

When you are researching print sources such as books, magazines, and newspapers, there are two places you can look to determine whether the source is going to be helpful:

index
table of contents
Use these resources to find out whether the book, magazine, or newspaper contains the information you need. If it doesn’t, move on!

You may also look through print sources for diagrams, charts, and images that might be helpful.

Evaluating Credibility

The sources you select to develop an argument should be credible and appeal to logic. Sources that appeal primarily to pathos or ethos could be biased and might not provide enough facts to give you a balanced view of the issue. In addition, the author of the source should be an authority on the topic.

Credible Web Resources

Not all sources are credible, and in order to be a good researcher, you must learn how to find the right information for your task.

One important question to ask yourself is whether the site you have found is written or maintained by someone who is an authority on the topic.

If the answer is no, or if you can’t find out, then it is better to search for another source instead. Even if the information looks valid, it is not considered credible until an established authority supports it. What makes someone an authority on a topic?

Many different people can lend credibility to your search:

People whose job it is to study and report on this topic
People who have experienced your topic firsthand
People who work for organizations that deal with this topic
Companies or organizations that focus on this topic
Most universities and newspapers
You should look for four main points while evaluating an online source.

Does the website express a specific opinion?
If it appears to have been created to make another website look bad or to promote a product or cause, it may not be a completely reliable source.

Opinion can often cloud the judgment of the person writing the information. Be careful when using sources that express strong opinions.

How recently was the website published?
Information can change or be updated over time. If the website is not current, it may have old facts that will not work well for your research.

Is the author credible?
Look for an indication that the owner or writer of the website is an authority on this topic.

Does the website provide documentation?
Read through what is provided to determine whether it is useful to you. Check other websites to see whether this information appears to be correct. Look for references and statistics within the website itself that will lend credibility to its facts.

Important

Remember: Wikis, as well as discussion boards, are often quite useful for preliminary research; however, they are not considered credible sources that you can use in your final data.

This is because it is possible for any person to edit them at any time. In other words, be cautious about using some online encyclopedias where users can edit content. You wouldn’t want to write about George Washington being the 55th President of France. That is not credible information!

Organizing Research Results

Here are some strategies you can use to organize the information you find:

Take notes on notebook paper, note cards, and website printouts. Also, try using an online note-taking program to bookmark pages and take notes within websites.
Highlight main ideas, helpful quotations, or important facts directly on the website using a Web 2.0 tool, or print your research and use highlighters to mark these things directly on the paper.
Assign specific colors to your different points and then color code your notes as you research.
Even though everyone takes notes a little differently, there is one thing everyone must do: document each source as they research.

If you read something that seems like it will be useful to your research, first write down the citation information on a notecard, webpage printout, or online bookmark.

Research Your Argument
Take a moment to revisit the position you would like to take in your argument. Can it be supported with facts? Do some research now to find out.

Required Sources

Keep in mind, your finished argument must be supported by at least three credible sources and include at least one visual representation of data that supports your claim.

Stop now and record at least three sources and a copy of a link to your supporting visual representation in the Preparing Your Argument graphic organizer. Once you have conducted your preliminary research, proceed to the next lesson page to develop your claim.

Stating Your Claim
SHOW INTERACTIVE
Developing a Claim—Text Version
Five Steps to Developing an Effective Claim
Complete the following sentence: I plan to prove that…
I plan to prove that the Afghani government denies many women educational opportunities.
Cross out “I plan to prove that.” What remains is your clearly stated position.
I plan to prove that the Afghani government denies many women educational opportunities.
Complete the following sentence: This matters because…
This matters because education helps people improve their quality of life.
Cross out “This matters because.” What remains is your purpose for writing.
This matters because education helps people improve their quality of life.
Combine these two thoughts into one sentence; this is your claim.
The Afghani government denies many women educational opportunities to prevent them from improving their quality of life.

Once you are happy with the way your claim is written, copy and paste it into your preparing Your Argument graphic organizer because your work cannot be saved here.
identifying the Counterclaim
Submit a Counterclaim—Text Version
[ Text area, type in your claim ]

Feedback
Print

Once you are happy with the way your counterclaim is written, copy and paste it into your Preparing Your Argument graphic organizer because your work cannot be saved here.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, you have conducted research to inform your own position on a controversial topic. You should have used that research to complete the Preparing Your Argument graphic organizer.

Remember that you may choose from these topics:

Is college necessary for a successful future?
Should the use of plastic (ie: straws, bags) be banned in consumer markets?
Are homeschool students at a disadvantage compared to public school students?
Has technology negatively affected our ability to communicate with each other?
Should high school students be required to take an online class in order to graduate?
Should the driving age be raised to 17 instead of 16?

Your work on this graphic organizer will be evaluated using the Preparing Your Argument rubric.

Preparing Your Argument Graphic Organizer
Save Print
Audience
Identify and describe your audience.

Research
Where did you find this source? How do you know it is credible?
Source:

Source:

Source:

Chart, graph, infographic:

Writing Your Claim
Complete the following sentence: I plan to prove that…

Assessment Instructions

At this time, you will submit your graphic organizer to provide a list of credible sources, a fully-developed claim, and a reasonable counterclaim.

Assignment

Complete the reading for this lesson.
Complete the self-checks in the lesson.
In the Assessments area, submit your completed note taking guide for 04.05 Preparing Your Argument.

SHOW INTERACTIVE

Developing a Counterclaim—Text Version
Five Steps to Identifying a Counterclaim
Initial Position: Women in Afghanistan do not have educational opportunities.

Complete the following sentence: My claim states that …
My claim states that the Afghani government denies many women educational opportunities to prevent them from improving their quality of life.
Cross out “My claim states that.” What remains is your clearly stated position.
My claim states that the Afghani government denies many women educational opportunities to prevent them from improving their quality of life.
Complete the following sentence: Some may disagree with me because …
“Some may disagree with me because their culture is different, and the dynamics between men and women are not the same in Afghanistan as they are in America.”
Cross out “Some may disagree with me because.” What remains is your purpose for writing.
“Some may disagree with me because their culture is different, and the dynamics between men and women are not the same in Afghanistan as they are in America.”
Combine these two thoughts; this is your claim and your counterclaim.
The Afghani government denies many women educational opportunities to prevent them from improving their quality of life. However, their culture is different, and the dynamics between men and women are not the same in Afghanistan as they are in America.

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