Monthly Archives: February 2012


Please remember, as we have one presentation left to perform, we are meeting in Evan’s Field House Wednesday–NOT THE COMPUTER LAB.


Argument Scenarios

Last week you read the “An Accusation of Sexual Harassment at John Adams High School” and used that as a jumping off point for the mock mediation in class.

This week you will be breaking into GROUPS OF THREE and choosing from the following “Argument Clusters” to use as the basis for your own Scenarios–which you will write, rehearse and perform in class.

This project is meant as a hands on exercise in identifying, defining, and explaining an argument that occurs in the world you live in. You will be asked to produce:

  • a written scenario like the short “An Accusation of Sexual Harassment at John Adams High School” based on the debate presented in your article  cluster. It must be 2 pages double spaced. Make sure both sides of the debate are clearly represented in your hypothetical situation, also include a neutral third side (like a judge or the school board in our large group exercise).
  • a script scene that follows the action of the scenario (like our mock mediation) that is based on a complication that arises from your scenario.
  • a well prepared performance of this script in class on Friday, February 24th.

This assignment will be graded on:

  • How clear and thorough your presentation is
  • How complete your presentation
  • Creativity and Originality
  • Teamwork and participation (like all group activities in this class attitude and commitment are CRUCIAL to success)

Once you choose your group please choose from one of the THREE Article Clusters, which everyone in your group must read and take note on for Wednesday’s class where you will begin putting your presentation together.

Parenting Styles

“Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”

“Developing Your Child’s Self Esteem”





“Polygamy is Harmful to Society”

“Why Polygamy is Good for Women” 

Group Scenario: Are Words Just Words?

An Accusation of Sexual Harassment at John Adams High School


Andrew and Jennifer are both members of the John Adams High School Student Council. Andrew (a senior) is the Student Body President and Jennifer (a sophomore) is his Vice President. Throughout the school year Andrew has been struggling to keep his many commitments; he runs track, is president of the National Honors Society, and has a part time job, as well as working several hours a week as an after school volunteer with an extended care program at the local elementary school. Jennifer has been covering many of Andrew’s Student Council responsibilities, and getting no recognition- but she continues because she is hoping to be President next year, and Andrew’s recommendation would be very helpful.

Word of Andrew’s failure to complete several tasks has reached the desk of the Student Council faculty advisor, and he plans to bring up the issue with Andrew at the next meeting.  Unfortunately, Andrew has an away meet and misses the meeting. The advisor calls for an emergency vote to remove Andrew and replace him with Jennifer (temporarily), the vote comes down as 5-6 (with Jennifer abstaining) in favor of removal. Jennifer is then sworn in as the new Student Body President.

Upon finding out what has happened at the meeting, via text message, Andrew is furious. Angrily he uses red “Window Print,” a removable spray paint, to write the word SLUT on the front and rear window of Jennifer’s mother’s car. A third party student witnesses the event and reports the act to the authorities.

The next morning Andrew (who is 18 and a legal adult) is called into the principal’s office, where Jennifer, her mother, the principal and a guidance counselor are waiting. Jennifer’s mother is filing a complaint of sexual harassment against Andrew on her daughter’s behalf. John Adams High School is a zero tolerance school, if Andrew is found to be guilty of harassment, he will be expelled.

Andrew contests that not only was there no permanent damage to vehicle, but that he has heard Jennifer and her friend calling each other “Bitch” “Slut” and “Whore” all the time, and that Jennifer even made her best friend a shirt that read “Bitch” in glitter. He says that it was meant to be funny and not hurtful. Yet, Jennifer is hurt and her mother is clearly upset over the event and wants Andrew punished.

After promising to make a public apology on the announcements at school and officially resign from all offices he holds in school clubs (including captain of the track team) Andrew is allowed to stay in school and graduate with his class. Jennifer gets to keep her new position of Student Body President until the elections in the fall of the following year.



Do you think the school took the proper actions against Andrew?

Do you believe Andrew was exercising his right to free speech? Or did her cross a line?

Do you believe what Andrew did counts as sexual harassment?

Did Jennifer’s mother have a legitimate claim of harassment against Andrew, not knowing how Jennifer and her friends speak to each other?

Imagine you are the principal. You have to make a decision regarding this case, would you stay with the original punishment from the scenario, or would you level a different judgment? What would you do in this case?


Mock Mediation

After giving you each time individually to read through and answer the questions on your own, I will be breaking you into THREE groups for Friday’s Mock Mediation.

Complication: Jennifer’s mother takes the case to court seeking damages against the school and Andrews. Each group must represent their interest regarding this case.

Group 1: This group will represent the interests of Jennifer and her Mother (think the argumentation strategy of theGlee episode)

Group 2: This group will represent the interests of Andrew (think the position the South Park episode presented)

Group 3: Will represent the interests of the John Adams High School. You will have to defend your punishment as being adequate, and your actions as fair. (you are the middle ground)

You will use whatever lab time you have left today and 15 minutes on Friday to research and prepare your statements.


A strong and clear statement of argument (your thesis)

At least THREE points of support (evidence)

At least THREE sources

An opening and closing argument


Blog Prompt #2 Identifying an Argument

In your last blog I asked that you chose and introduce the topic of your overall blog for the semester. You were to explain what your over-reaching topic is and why it’s important to you. This week’s prompt asks that you dig a little deeper into your topic.

I ask that you take this week to do some online research on your topic, look at articles, related blogs, websites and forums and find ONE interesting argument/debate that is going on related to your topic.

In your blog you will (in 250-500 words):

  • Describe the argument-what is it about, where did it come from, what are the opposing sides.
  • What are the opposing sides saying on the topic? What are their arguments for their position? What type of rhetorical appeals are they using? Which side seems to have more support?
  • Is there a middle ground being proposed? What is it? Does it have any support?
  • Identify what kind of argument it is? Is it personal? emotional? research based? friendly? How does the argument style affect the success of the respective sides?

Make sure to cite/reference the places from which you get your information.

This blog will be due: 11:59 PM Friday, February 17, 2012

A Checklist for Analyzing a Text

Ask yourself if you have considered all of the following matters:

  • Who is the author?
  • Is the piece aimed at a particular audience? A neutral audience? A sympathetic audience? A hostile audience?
  • What is the author’s thesis (argument, main point, claim)?
  • What assumptions does the author make? Do I share them? If not, why not?
  • Does the author ever confuse facts with beliefs or opinions?
  • What rhetorical appeals does the author make?
  • How convincing is the evidence?
  • Are significant objections and counter-evidence adequately discussed?
  • How is the text organized, and is the organization effective? Are the title, the opening paragraphs, and the concluding paragraphs effective? In what ways?
  • If visual materials such as graph, pie charts, or pictures are used, how persuasive are they? What rhetorical appeal do they make?
  • What is the author’s tone? Is it appropriate?
  • To what extent has the author convinced me? Why?

Lab Activity 2/8/12

I ask that you use today as a workshop day. I asked that you re-read your article on Monday and you will use this lab to begin prewriting

your essay. You may work with ONE other person who is writing on your article–if you wish.

In a new Word Document do the following:

Step One:

Identify your author’s argument (What is he/she trying to do, what is he/she trying to convince people of?)

Step Two:

Make two lists, 1)Evidence you find effective 2)Evidence you find ineffective

Step Three:

Make two more lists, 1)Points you agree with, 2)Points you disagree with

Step Four:

Formulate an argument (I feel [Author X] presents an effective/ineffective argument) and choose three elements supporting your  argument (these will become your body paragraphs and the cornerstones of your essay).