for Using Writing Principles to Model Critical Reading
These quick strategies use the language of the LRS curriculum to guide
students' critical reading. They are arranged in increasing
order of difficulty, so that you can help students first to
comprehend and then to question and challenge what they read.
1. Evidence Hunt.
Before students read, hand out argument boxes
with the claims and reasons already filled in. Ask students
as they read to find the evidence that supports each reason.
2. Argument Boxes
Assign students to fill in argument boxes as they read, or fill in
the boxes together on the board or overhead in class. Remind students
that they can fill in the evidence and then work through the reasons
to the claim;
they don't have to find the claim first.
3. 30-Second Argument.
Pair off students. Student A summarizes for Student B the claim,
reasons, and evidence from the reading in thirty seconds or
less. Then Student B does the same for Student A. Have a few
students give their
summaries for the entire class, then refine as a group.
4. The Problem: Tangible or Conceptual?
Identify the problem as tangible or conceptual. Should
the reader do something differently or think differently? Is
the problem a gap in knowledge? If so, what are its costs?
5. What's the Question?
We can always express the destabilizing condition of a conceptual
problem as a question, but the question is usually not on the page.
Working in groups, students should find the destabilizing condition
and then articulate
the question it poses.
Have students fill in problem statement boxes as they read or
in groups in class. To make this easier, you can give them
one part of the problem statment and have use the logical connections
between the parts
of the problem statement to identify the rest. You may want
to use the Problem Statements: Logical Connections handout
before introducing problem statement boxes.
7. Shared Assumptions
At any point in discussion, ask students to articulate warrants,
although you don't need to use the word warrants. Ask: What do I
have to believe to accept this reason or evidence as true?
8. Argument Alternatives
List alternative positions not acknowledged by the reading. To focus
this exercise, assign each group a single local claim with which to
9. Reader ID
Who is the audience for this argument? Students can work in groups, with each
group looking at a different set of clues to determine the audience. Clues
include the status quo position, consequences, evidence, and acknowledgement/response.
What does each clue tell us about the article's readership? What do these readers
10. On the Page
After students have completed argument boxes, lead a discussion of the relationship between the structure of the argument and the organization of the reading. Where do the parts of argument appear on the page, if at all? Is it a claim-first or claim-last argument? What does the organizational structure emphasize? How would the impact of the reading be different if it were organized in a different way?