Arguments



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  • (*One Way to)
  • Write an Effective
  • Argumentative Paragraph:
  • Or, How to Win the Mock Trial

Arguments

  • We are practicing argumentative writing, which requires taking a close, critical look at a text and then logically explaining your opinion to others.
  • Argument Essay Writing, Shmoop

Get Ready to Color Your World! (by underlining your writing)

    • GREEN is for evidence.
    • BLUE is for reasoning.
    • PURPLE is for a concluding sentence.
  • RED is for the claim.
    • ORANGE is for transitions.

Step 1: Analyze the Prompt

  • What are you being asked to do?
  • What is the topic? Identify the key words.
  • What skills will you need to apply?
  • What pre-writing strategy will help best? (Outline, Venn Diagram, Cluster Map, Etc.)

Step 2: Claim

  • The formula for an argumentative claim:
  • topic + opinion = claim

A good argumentative claim is controversial – it is NOT a fact that everyone accepts to be true.

  • A good argumentative claim is controversial – it is NOT a fact that everyone accepts to be true.
  • It reuses key words from the prompt.
  • It can be the topic sentence (main
  • idea of a single paragraph)
  • *OR it can be the thesis statement that controls the main idea of an essay (a multi-paragraph piece of writing).

Basic Claim Examples:

  • The “______” of a claim can be as short as three words:
  • Spongebob is annoying.
  • Spinach is delicious.
  • Math is fascinating.
  • Skeletons are creepy.
  • He is guilty.
  • Others? ____________

Are these good claims?

  • Apples are nutritious. Yes or No
  • Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Yes or No
  • Cheerleading is a sport. Yes or No

Next, Build on the Claim Formula: *“Fatten up” the skeleton with more content to give more context.

“Fattened Up” Claim Example:

  • Juror 8 is courageous.
  • In Reginald Rose’s play Twelve Angry Men, Juror 8, a man who stands for his beliefs during jury deliberations, is a hero who is courageous and admirable.

Court Analogy

  • In a court of law, for example, the prosecution and the defense have opposing claims.
  • Your Honor, my client is an innocent man, so the jury should find him “not guilty!”
  • The defendant is, indeed, guilty of the crime and should be convicted and brought to justice!

-My client is innocent. (defense)

  • -My client is innocent. (defense)
  • Your Honor, my client is an innocent man, so the jury should find him “not guilty!”
  • -The defendant is guilty. (prosecution)
  • The defendant is, indeed, guilty of the crime and should be convicted and brought to justice!

Claim Practice:

  • Watch the first 90 seconds and last 90 seconds of the 1932 Disney short film “The Three Little Pigs”:
  • What claims can you make about the third pig?

Claim Example

  • In the Disney short film “The Three Little Pigs,” the third pig is very wise.

Step 3: EVIDENCE

  • This is the proof that will convince the jury that they should side with you.
  • Evidence comes from the text – it does NOT contain opinion.
  • It must directly support the wording of the claim (be on topic).

Evidence Should Be:

  • Accurate
  • Reliable
  • Credible
  • Relevant
  • Appropriate
  • Cited

Exhibit A”

  • In court, lawyers present evidence to prove their case.
  • For example:
  • “The defendant’s fingerprint is on the murder weapon.”

Types of Evidence

  • Fact
  • Statistic
  • Example
  • Description
  • Direct quotation
  • Paraphrase (with citation)
  • Anecdote

Evidence Practice:

  • What evidence from “The Three Little Pigs” proves that the third pig is wise?

Example of Evidence:

  • For example, he labors to build his house out of sturdy brick, stating, “I have no chance to sing and dance for work and play don’t mix.” His brothers, however, use easier methods such as tossing straw and messily arranging sticks in order to have more free time to entertain themselves.

Transitions

  • All effective writing needs transitions.
  • Transitions connect ideas and make them flow, showing their relationship (cause/effect, chronological, etc.)
  • Writing without transitions is choppy and sounds unsophisticated.

Evidence Transitions:

  • For example,…
  • For instance,…
  • As stated in the text,…
  • In fact,…
  • According to the text,…
  • The character says, “…
  • An example of this is…

Step 4: REASONING

  • Insight
  • Analysis
  • Commentary
  • Evaluation
  • Judgment
  • Connection
  • Reasoning comes from your brain, NOT from the text. It includes:
  • Interpretation
  • Explanation
  • Reflection
  • Conclusion
  • Feeling
  • Inference
  • Elaboration

What? Vs. SO What?!!

  • It does NOT simply list or summarize what you have read.
  • It requires 20% book and 80% brain.

An effective argument contains at least two times more reasoning than evidence.

  • An effective argument contains at least two times more reasoning than evidence.
  • :

Evidence vs. Reasoning:

  • Evidence:
  • Reasoning:

Reasoning may take 2-4 sentences in order to justify how the evidence supports the claim.

  • Reasoning may take 2-4 sentences in order to justify how the evidence supports the claim.
  • It requires the use of logic, not simply restating the obvious.

Reasoning Transitions:

  • This shows that…
  • This proves that…
  • This demonstrates that…
  • This is important because…
  • The reader can conclude that…
  • Thus,…

Reasoning Transitions (cont’d):

  • Because of this,…
  • Therefore,…
  • Consequently,…
  • This means that…
  • To explain,…
  • For this reason,…

Evaluate this girl’s argument: What claim is this little girl making? What is her evidence? Is it credible? Does her reasoning use sound, logical sense?

“Beat them to the Punch

  • Acknowledging a counterclaim (or counterargument) in your reasoning can often undercut opposing viewpoints.

Lawyer Logic

  • In court, lawyers may interpret the same piece of evidence in different ways to support their opposing claims.
  • This can be called “putting your own spin on it.”
  • 8 Defences For Disney Villains If They Were Represented By Lawyers.” http://www.tickld.com/x/disney-villains-defended-by-lawyers

Reasoning “The Fingerprint” Evidence

  • Prosecution:
  • “The presence of the defendant’s fingerprint on the murder weapon proves that he was the one who pulled the trigger; therefore, you, the jury, should convict him of this crime.”
  • Defense:
  • “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client’s fingerprint was indeed on the murder weapon but for a valid reason – the real murderer asked the defendant to unjam his gun at the firing range the previous day, framing my client for the crime!”

Thinking Like a Lawyer, Texas A & M School of Law

Reasoning Practice:

  • Justify why the fact that the third little pig built his house out of brick makes him wise?

Example of Reasoning:

  • It is important that the wolf is unable to blow down the brick house because it demonstrates the lesson that hard work pays off: building a brick house took more time and effort, but the reward is his safety from an evildoer. This shows that the third pig is smarter than his brothers, whose homes were destroyed (and they themselves almost eaten) by the wolf as a direct result of making foolish decisions.

Step 5: ____________SENTENCE

  • A concluding sentence “wraps up” the paragraph by rephrasing the claim, explaining a theme or lesson, giving a call-to-action, etc.
  • Not all paragraphs need a concluding sentence, but they can add a complete, polished tone to your writing.

Example Concluding Sentence:

  • In the end, the third pig outsmarts the “big, bad wolf” and saves his brothers, proving that he is, indeed, wise.

Now let’s put the pieces of “The Three Little Pigs” argumentative paragraph together:

  • In the Disney short film “The Three Little Pigs,” the third pig is very wise. For example, he labors to build his house out of sturdy brick, stating, “I have no chance to sing and dance for work and play don’t mix.” His brothers, however, use easier methods such as tossing straw and messily arranging sticks in order to have more free time to entertain themselves. It is important that the wolf is unable to blow down the brick house because it demonstrates the lesson that hard work pays off: building a brick house took more time and effort, but the reward is his safety from an evildoer. This shows that the third pig is smarter than his brothers, whose homes were destroyed (and they themselves almost eaten) by the wolf as a direct result of making foolish decisions. In the end, the third pig outsmarts the “big, bad wolf” and saves his brothers, proving that he is, indeed, wise.

Practice:

  • What claims can you make about Bart Simpson?
  • As a cartoon character, Bart Simpson is a bad role model for children. According to the article “Well, Eat My Shorts: The Simpson at 25” (pressreader.com), “The name Bart was chosen because it is an anagram of ‘brat.’” This shows that the show’s creators intended for Bart to have disrespectful behavior. For example, one of the most alarming figures of Bart’s poor attitude is the outrageous number of times he has told adults, “Eat my shorts,” a phrase that means something similar to “kiss my butt.” This demonstrates his lack of respect for authority by not only disobeying them but also putting them down. It also suggests that Bart feels superior to those who raise and teach him, further emphasizing his failure to be a cooperative, disciplined child. Such displays of defiance are often copied by young impressionable viewers; therefore, parents should use discretion about allowing their children to watch The Simpsons.

OJ Simpson closing defense argument

  • OJ Simpson closing defense argument

Legally Blonde Cross-Examination

  • Legally Blonde Cross-Examination

Law and Order Closing Arguments

Now Apply What You Have Learned to “People vs. Dixon”:

  • Claim:
  • (Transition), Evidence:
  • (Transition), Reasoning:
  • (Transition), Concluding:

Further Reading:

  • -Mock Trial Writing Help
  • http://www.spokanecriminallawyer.info/mock-trial/how-to-write-opening-and-closing-statements-for-mock-trial/
  • -Closing Argument Examples
  • http://spokanewaduilawyer.com/mock-trial/
  • -How To Think Like a Lawyer” http://www.wikihow.com/Think-Like-a-Lawyer
  • -“The Sneakiest Way Prosecutors Get a Guilty Verdict: PowerPoint”
  • https://www.wired.com/2014/12/prosecutors-powerpoint-presentations/


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