Unit two teaching materials

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Table of Contents

PINKER – Schedule & Class Plan Ideas 3

Describing relationships between texts 5

Prompt & Guidelines for Organization of Paper 2 8

RUBRIC (& possible Peer Review form) for Project 2 9


Pinker Pre-Reading Questions/Moral Dilemmas 14

Moral Foundations Questionnaire 17

Pinker Jeopardy Questions 19

Pinker Discussion Questions 21

Applying Pinker to News Stories 23


Template phrases: 29

Templates for Introducing all Three Authors 30

MODEL: Tough, KIPP Schools, & Chapter 9 34

Prospectus for Paper 2 (1 -2 pages) 36

Framework for Body paragraphs 37

Framework for Body paragraphs + Sample Body paragraphs 40

Sample body paragraphs CHARTED (Uses Chua) 43

More Sample Body Paragraphs – Healthcare 45

More Sample Body Paragraphs 45


Basic Peer Review 49

Full Peer Review 50

Sample Papers 53

Sample Pinker Draft #1 53

Sample Pinker Draft #2 57

Sample Pinker Draft #3 59

Sample Pinker Draft #4 62

Words for Signaling Connections 66



PINKER – Schedule & Class Plan Ideas

Week 1: Introducing Pinker
Pre-reading/open discussion of questions related to origins and nature of morality
- (“Where does our sense of morality come from? Are moral principles “innate” – are we all born with a kind of moral compass?” Etc.)
- Discuss sample “moral dilemma” questions (trolleys, crying babies, frying Fido, etc.)
- Discuss “Moral Foundations” questionnaire (or yourmorals.org). Give student sample questions, and have them answer alone. Then in groups, compile results, and do averages for class. Compare to results from other countries/groups.

Interviews/Videos/Short Texts to Intro the Topic
- RADIO LAB discussion of morality. ~ 29 minutes. Nice, simple overview of the research, with some fun examples and interviews. http://www.radiolab.org/2007/aug/13/
- Radio Interview with Pinker about his article "The Moral Instinct" (NPR's Talk of the Nation, Jan 28, 2008, 30 minutes) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18482797
Animated video of Rifkin talk, “The Empathic Civilisation” http://www.thersa.org/events/video/archive/jeremy-rifkin-the-empathic-civilisation
- “The emerging moral psychology” by Dan Jones http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/theemergingmoralpsychology/
Brooks, “The End of Philosophy.” Op-ed about study of morality from evolutionary perspective, and “Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal.” NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NYT, May 27, 2009.
Jigsaw researching rhetorical situation (Pinker, NYT Magazine, etc.) and references Mother Teresa, Borlaug, etc.)

Chart Pinker – work through initial sections (see teaching materials)

Guided reading and discussion questions for first sections – point students to key terms, key analogies (e.g. How does Pinker establish exigency? What do you notice about the way Pinker addresses his audience, esp. his use of pronouns? What terms, phrases and analogies does Pinker use to describe morality? Etc.)

Group work – assign 3 students for each of the 10 sections, and have them present to the class. They will discuss a) main claims, b) evidence, c) ideas for connecting outside texts d) anything they found unclear, difficult, particularly interesting/persuasive/weak.

Week 2: Exploring the Claims and Evidence
Explain assignment 2 - give prompt, grading rubric (if being used) and show sample student papers.

Continue charting sections.

Continue group work –students presenting on each of the 10 sections

Do argument map

Work on drafting account of claim that students most interested in exploring further/challenging

Using template phrases

Week 3: Making Connections & Drafting Paper

Show Haidt video and discuss how it connects and extends Pinker

Jonathan Haidt’s "On the moral roots of liberals and conservatives" is an 18 minute video on evolution of morality, and how "ratios" of "universal" moral principles are differently balanced by conservatives and liberals. Have students examine how it connects with and extends Pinker. (Haidt's work is a big part of Pinker's argument)

How Blogs Connect: Have students read blog posts that debate Pinker, esp. the comments section. For example, these comments on Pinker by Dawkins readers’ could be used to model the assignment http://richarddawkins.net/articles/2123-the-moral-instinct

Library Day

Comparing Arguments and Introductions
You could examine the abstracts and introductions from 2 academic articles (“Moral Principles or Consumer Preferences? Alternative Framings of the Trolley Problem,” and “The Intelligence of the Moral Intuitions” http://goo.gl/vhdL7 ) If you give students the first 1-2 pages of these research articles, they should be able to identify significant differences in the way the authors address the reader, think about audience, connect with other texts (situate themselves in relation to a research community), establish exigency, create ethos, present major claims, use metalanguage, etc. Then discuss how these 2 texts each challenge and complicate Pinker’s claims.

If you wish, discuss how complicate, extend, etc. connect with aspects of academic discourse (CARS)

Use “Unit 2 Collected Drafting Materials” – templates, framework for body paragraphs, sample body paragraphs, prospectus, etc.

Hand in prospectus – map of paper, plus annotated bibliography

Week 4: Drafting

Workshop drafts
Peer review

Describing relationships between texts

How texts “extend,” “complicate,” “illustrate,” “challenge,” or “qualify” other texts
Academic writing requires that you build arguments using multiple texts. To do this effectively, you will want to describe the relationships between these different texts.
Extend: When a source advances, develops, expands, or take further some element of an existing argument, we say that the source extends an argument.

  • Extending an argument involves presenting additional evidence or reasons that are in line with the original argument but go beyond it.

Some verbs you might use to describe the way a source extends a text include:

Gives additional evidence, develops, elaborates, expands, extrapolates, teases out, advances, takes further, provides additional evidence/support, supplements, etc.

Complicate: When a source presents evidence, arguments or claims that are at odds with an author’s position, suggesting that the position needs to be qualified, we say that one text complicates another.

  • Complicating an author’s argument is not quite the same as disagreeing with it, although disagreement may be involved.

  • It usually involves suggesting that an author has not dealt with the full complexity of an issue, has failed to consider relevant evidence, or that there is a gap, shortcoming or limitation in an author’s account.

  • Complicating an argument may involve exposing problems, contradictions, or presenting counterexamples and counterarguments that challenge some part of the argument.

Some verbs you might use to describe the way a source complicates a text include:

challenges, contradicts, disagrees, locates problems with, identifies shortcomings, notes that X fails to account for, notes that X ignores A, suggests that X’s account is exaggerated, is vulnerable to counterarguments/counterexamples, rests on several highly questionable assumptions

Qualify: When a source presents evidence/claims that suggest an author’s argument goes too far, is too strong, or overgeneralizes, we say it qualifies the author’s argument. When a source limits the scope or extent of claims in an argument, we say that the source qualifies the argument.
Example of unqualified argument: All video games incite violence and should be banned.
Qualified argument: Miller asserts that certain extreme video games may desensitize impressionable young people to violence and advocates a ban on these types of games. However, Jenkins points to evidence from MIT demonstrating that most games are innocent fun and may even teach useful skills. Nevertheless, he acknowledges Miller’s concerns and suggests that only games that realistically simulate murder should be banned. In addition, he limits the ban to children under the age of 14. Thus, Jenkins qualifies Miller’s claims.

: when a source directly contradicts or challenges an author’s position.

Illustrate: When a source provides examples, additional evidence, cases or arguments that help explain a position we say that the source illustrates an argument.

  • Illustrating an argument means to present additional examples that illustrate or support a claim or argument. The illustration may not be explicitly mentioned by the original author.

Some verbs you might use to describe the way a source clarifies or illustrates a text include: illuminates, exemplifies, explicates, confirms, supports, etc.

NOTE: As with most sets of terms, there is some overlap between them. For example, something that illustrates an argument may also clarify it. An element of an argument can thus do more than one thing. The important thing is to try to figure out the general relationship between texts/parts of texts.

EXAMPLE: While Chua sees conflict between ethnicities in developing countries as driven largely by globalization and democratization, others believe that poor government is the main culprit. In “The Myth of Global Ethnic Conflict,” John Bowden argues that many countries composed of diverse ethnic groups have avoided conflict because their governments have created “multiethnic coalitions” which encourage different groups to “seek the large electoral middle ground.” The countries he uses as examples are all democracies. Bowden thus complicates Chua’s argument by suggesting that democracy, properly run, can prevent ethnic violence, and that the solution is thus renewed commitment to democracy rather than a retreat from it. This contrasts with Chua, who believes that in countries where there is a “market dominant minority,” popular majorities always tend toward ethnocentrism, and some form of “backlash” is very likely. Bowden, on the other hand, believes that ethnic conflict exists only when ethnicities are left out of the power structure, or when destructive “political choices” are made. He acknowledges that cultural diversity does present challenges to peace, and that certain other factors can make conflict likely. …However, Bowden insists that democracy and globalization do not lead inevitably to the kind of problems Chua outlines, and that we must focus on the underlying factors that are the real drivers of violence. Bowden thus complicates Chua’ argument in several ways; firstly, he presents evidence that is at odds with Chua’s thesis, and which can be read as questioning the extent to which it is true. Secondly, Bowden’s article suggests that Chua’s position is overstated and needs to be severely qualified. Lastly, Bowden’s article suggests that Chua has failed to deal with the full complexity of what causes ethnic violence in developing countries.
Prompt & Guidelines for Organization of Paper 2


Length 7 – 8 pages
In “The Moral Instinct,” Harvard University psychology professor Stephen Pinker claims that our moral sense comes primarily from evolution, is largely “instinctual,” and that there may be a limited number of universal moral “principles.” He suggests that recent scientific research provides important new ways of thinking about morality – how morality evolved, how it operates, and how humans engage in “moral reasoning.” For this paper you will select at least two outside texts that make arguments that connect with those of Food Inc. You will use these texts to illustrate, clarify, challenge, qualify, extend, or complicate one of the arguments advanced in “The Moral Instinct.”

Criteria for Evaluation:

  1. accurately describe the author’s project and argument

  2. signal the topic and give a clear indication of how the paper will proceed

  3. locate claims and/or evidence from (at least) 2 outside sources that connect with Pinker’s argument

  4. analyze these claims/evidence in order to show how they illustrate, clarify, extend, or complicate arguments found in Pinker

  5. present evidence that explains in detail how these texts illustrate, clarify, extend, or complicate Pinker’s arguments

  6. use an effective structure that carefully guides the reader from one idea to the next and be thoroughly edited so that sentences are readable and appropriate for an academic paper



  • Introduce the topic/establish exigency, significance, or advance a “centrality claim”

  • Introduce the rhetorical context of “The Moral Instinct”.

    • (think Rhetorical Situation: author, text, context, audience, purpose)

  • Briefly introduce Pinker’s project & argument.

  • Metadiscourse – explain YOUR purpose and project (what your paper will do)
    State the direction of your analysis and the steps you will take to get there. (For example, “In my analysis of Pinker’s text I will examine [what?] and argue [what?].”) (This orients the reader, but can also be where you reveal your own stance.)


  1. State one of Pinker’s claims and briefly describe how he supports the claim.

  2. Give a salient example, and nail your example with a quote.

  3. Explain the quotation by telling what he is doing, and delineating the ways it ties back to his argument.

  4. Introduce the outside text/author, and explain how the secondary text can be read as extending, complicating, challenging, illustrating, or qualifying Pinker’s argument. Use quotes and examples from both Pinker & the outside text to support your analysis.

  5. Explain and/or discuss the significance of the connection

Conclusion: This is the “so what, who cares?” part of your essay. You have several options. You can

  • Consider as a whole what the other texts DO to Pinker’s claims.

  • Consider the strengths/weaknesses, and effectiveness of Pinker’s claims and strategies.

  • Comment on how this argument has affected you as an individual and/or how it might affect other viewers.

  • Discuss where this analysis leads you – what position do you know have on the issue?

RUBRIC (& possible Peer Review form) for Project 2

Student __________________________________ RWS 100 Grading Rubric for Project #2

Points Possible





Introduces topic at hand, and author. Gives an account of Pinker’s overall argument and project.


Has a clear thesis statement which makes an argument and indicates how the paper will proceed. (metadiscourse)



Analyzes one of Pinker’s arguments through the lens of outside texts and demonstrates explicitly how it is being complicated, extended, qualified, challenged or illustrated. Does not merely give general discussion of what texts are “about,” but makes genuine connections using verbs and phrases from the reader. Comments:


Describes/summarizes connections between the texts and the significance of these connections; discusses what has been learned about the topic, as well as arguments and how they can be complicated, illustrated, qualified, or extended. (Conclusion)



Uses an effective structure that carefully guides the reader from one idea to the next (smoothly integrates information and evidence from two sources and “The Moral Instinct, and transitions between sentences and paragraphs).



Implements academic stylistic conventions, to include: sentences and paragraphs are cohesive, fully developed, unified and focused. All quotations are introduced, integrated, and explained.



Carefully edited for grammatical errors as well as typos.
Paper/Works Cited page follows MLA format (lack of careful proofreading and MLA format can result in the loss of up to 10 points).





Final Comments

Your Total


Student __________________________________ RWS 100 Grading Rubric for Project #2






1. Introduces topic/gets reader’s attention.

2. Provides an overview of Pinker, his project and argument.

3. Describes your project/what the paper will do (metadiscourse). May include brief description of two/three outside texts and how the paper will use them to analyze Pinker (can make this part of body section instead if prefer).



1. Clearly and fully describes one of Pinker’s claims so that a reader unfamiliar with the text can understand it.

2. Includes at least one quotation to support your interpretation of the claim – quote is introduced, integrated and explicitly explained (e.g. “What the author is saying here is…in other words…”)
3. Transitions from “The Moral Instinct” to outside text (e.g. “Pinker clearly wants the audience to believe X…However, author Z provides a useful point of contrast, and
can be read as extending/complicating etc. Pinker’s claim…”)
4. Briefly introduces first outside text, author and project. Clearly and fully describes the claim or evidence so that a reader unfamiliar with the text can understand it.
5. Includes at least one quotation to support your reading of this claim/evidence – quote is introduced, integrated and explicitly explained (e.g. “What outside text Z is saying here is…in other words…”)

6. Analyzes in detail how the outside text can be read as complicating, extending, illustrating, or qualifying a claim found in the movie. This will require you to provide an interpretation of how the text can be read, and present your case, i.e. support your interpretation (“I would like to suggest that this claim complicates Pinker because it presents evidence that undermines aspect X of the claim…author A’s article can also be read as exposing a blindspot in Pinker’s position, something he fails to consider…For example, while Pinker says Z, author A points to X…author A writes…This clearly shows C”). Imagine you are trying to convince a jury – you must do everything you can to be as persuasive as possible. MOST IMPORTANT PART OF PAPER!


CONCLUSION: summarizes connections between the texts & the significance of these connections; discusses what has been learned about the topic, and/or how arguments can be complicated, illustrated, clarified, or extended.


MECHANICS/FORMATTING: Maintains focus, keeps cohesion tight, ideas are fully developed, transitions guide reader (see “Rules of Thumb” handout/handbook)

- maintains focus within paragraphs

- transitions clearly between ideas/sections
- creates coherence within sentences and paragraphs

- Carefully edited for grammatical errors as well as typos. (Each typo or new grammatical error will result in the loss of one point, not to exceed 5 points).

- Paper/Works Cited properly formatted – MLA, APA or format used in your major



Your Total

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