Reasons and Evidence
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 15-20 minutes
Students practice using evidence to support their claim, and see
how some evidence can be used to support opposite claims. They
also practice making reasons to organize their evidence.
Write two opposite claims relevant to your theme or recent classroom
discussion. Then, choose about 12 pieces of evidence: some should
clearly support claim A; some should clearly support claim B; some
should be flexible enough to support either claim.
Divide the class into groups of 3. Half of the groups will argue
claim A; half will argue claim B.
Hand out the evidence (either on one sheet, or cut up so that each
piece of evidence is on a slip of paper). Give the groups three
minutes to go through the evidence as fast as they can and choose
four pieces to support their claim. They must circle their choices.
Give the groups five-ten minutes to create reasons the evidence
will support. (They might fill out argument boxes to do this) Also,
they can begin to generate any additional evidence they'd need.
After a few minutes have gone by, let the groups return to their
original evidence list to see if there's anything else they can
make use of.
Share results as a class. (The conversation usually turns into
a discussion of how the same evidence sometimes can be used to
support two opposite claims, how the same evidence can generate
different reasons, how discarded evidence can be worked into an
See below for an example of claims and an evidence list about television.
Example of TV Claims and Evidence
Claim A: Watching television is good for individuals, families,
and the nation.
Claim B: Watching television is bad for individuals, families,
and the nation.
Evidence (some of these are invented)
Improvements in camera technology mean that it is now possible
to see a fetus grow inside a uterus, and to see pictures from NASA
cameras on Mars.
More Americans know the lyrics to the theme song from "The
Brady Bunch"than know the words to Shakespeare's "Shall
I compare thee to a summer's day."
An average American living to age 65, at present levels of TV viewing,
will have spent nine years of his life watching TV.
Every year, more and more stations are added to cable offerings.
Crime is at least 10 times as prevalent on TV as in the real world.
During the Gulf War, television gave viewers an instant picture
of the fighting and casualties, along with updates from government
A substantial percentage of people get their news from television,
even from television comedy news shows like "The Daily Show."
Masterpiece Theatre has been on the air for more than two decades.
Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time and "M*A*S*H*" both use
the futility of war as their topic; The Catcher in the Rye and "My
So-Called Life" both want to understand the anguish over teenage
On prime time TV, men outnumber women at least 3 to 1, while in
the real world, there are actually slightly more women in the population.
More and more Americans report being stressed out by work and family