How a Claim Becomes a Law

Parts of Argument (esp. claims, reasons, evidence)
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 30+ minutes

(Activity and arguments designed by Robin Field)

1. Come up with a list of 5 or 6 topics related to your theme or the sub-topic you've been discussing.

2. Put students into groups of 3. Tell them that for the next half hour or so, the classroom will become the Senate, and each of them are senators working on sub-committees. Each sub-committee will receive a topic about which they must create a law. They will propose their law to the entire Senate, then the Senate will vote. In order to persuade their esteemed colleagues, each sub-committee should come up with at least three reasons to support their claim, and at least two pieces of evidence to support each reason. The sub-committees will have 10-15 minutes to come up with a law they think they can pass, and the reasons and evidence to support it.

3. Distribute topics.

4. Visit the sub-committees as they work.

5. Call the Senate to session, and ask the senators to propose their laws. Discuss and vote on them one at a time; encourage the rest of the Senate to ask questions and raise objections. If a law fails, ask the senators why they didn't pass it and what they needed to hear from the sub-committee in order to support the law.