Unusual Claims

Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 15-40 minutes
(Activity and arguments developed by Justin Scott Van Kleeck)
This activity gives students the chance to build arguments; it's a bit more fun because it asks students to make slightly wacky arguments.
Put students into groups of four or five. Give them each a claim (give everyone the same claim), and ask them to generate at least three reasons, at least two pieces of evidence for each reason, acknowledgment and response, and warrants. After 10 minutes or so, compare arguments. You might ask students to work through two or three claims altogether.
Variations: Supply other parts of the argument, and ask students to generate the rest.
Listed below are some sample arguments (it's not a bad idea to sketch out the pieces for yourself in case you need to help students brainstorm); of course, you might use outlandish claims about the class theme.

Claim Reasons Evidence Warrants Acknowledgement




The 1969 Apollo moon landing was a hoax.

*The photo and video footage of NASA on the moon are obviously staged.
*The astronauts are really defensive and protest too much
*After Kennedy's challenge, there was a lot of political pressure andnational pride at stake in a successful moon landing by the end of the 60s
*Lots of things are on tape that never could have happened: the waving flag, lights and shadows, the moon buggy
*Buzz Aldrin punched a guy who asked him to swear on the Bible that the moon landing was real
*Kennedy's speech, newspaper articles of the decade
*Certain things possible on earth are impossible on the moon
*People who resort to physical violence do so because they know they're wrong
*The government will do anything to (appear to) fulfill a president's goal (at least in the 60s, at least if the president was the assassinated JFK)
*Actually, you can drive on the moon, in a special vehicle
*Buzz Aldrin is just a hot-head; he was offended.
*Other presidential goals—even JFK's—went unrealized, and the government had bigger things to worry about in 1969 (race, Vietnam).



People should not have to learn to read.

*In our high-tech world, reading is unnecessary; everything can be made visual or oral.
*Reading is boring and time-consuming.
*Reading is unhealthy.
*Television, radio, PowerPoint, etc.
*Most people prefer film adaptations or books on tape to books themselves.
*People go blind from reading too much. And don't get me started on paper cuts!
*Ideas and language begin as oral or visual concepts, only written down after they've been imagined.
*Things that are difficult or time-consuming are not worth the effort. Easier is always better.
*Possible infirmities and accidents are reason to avoid an activity.
*Reading makes technology possible. Reading and writing help people learn and think.
*Sometimes harder is better; anything worth having is worth working for.
*The risk of blindness is minimal and paper cuts are not a big deal; these sacrifices are worth it.