As middle and high school teachers we’ve all suffered through teaching the dreaded argumentative or persuasive essay.
Well, those days are over, my friends…
I started using the documentary style film The Secret, which is based on Rhonda Byrne’s book, more than ten years ago in the secondary classroom, and I’ve yet to find a more engaging topic for argument. I’ve used it with various grades and multiple demographics over the years, and every class has been completely captivated, enchanted from beginning to end.
The basic premise of The Secret is that thoughts and feelings are energy and people “attract” situations, people, things, etc. based on the individual “frequency” they emit. If a person has a habit of thinking—and therefore feeling—negatively, this will be reflected in his or her life by attracting negativity. Likewise, if a person has a habit of thinking—and therefore feeling—positively, this too will be reflected in his or her life by attracting positivity.
This concept is coined as “the law of attraction.” It’s an intriguing concept that is certainly worth exploring and debating, but most importantly for your students—it’s INTERESTING, which means they genuinely pay attention to the related lessons and exercise critical thinking skills.
Whether students decide to argue for or against the LOA is irrelevant. What’s important is that they are exposed to a potentially life-changing way of thinking (positive thinking can never hurt), and they simultaneously learn how to structure an argument. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
After students watch the film, I have them research counter claims on the internet to read some opposing views. I simply instruct them to Google phrases like: the law of attraction hoax, or the law of attraction delusion. Then, once they have a balanced perspective, I ask them to reflect on their own lives and decide for themselves if they want to argue for or against the LOA based on their experiences, observations, and knowledge.
The film is available on Net Flix. If you don’t have a Net Flix membership, you can sign up for a free monthly subscription and use it with your class within their 30 day trial period offer. Net Flix will send you a reminder to cancel before 30 days is up. Or, you can find the DVD on Amazon for around five bucks. I’ve ordered multiple copies over the years because I’ve lent it out or given it away so many times.
The book by Rhonda Byrne is also available (you can usually find copies on Amazon for around four bucks), but the film is incredibly engaging, so I opt for the media version.
IN THIS BUNDLE YOU'LL RECEIVE:
~ Suggested film prompt: Documentary style film: The Secret (available on NetFlix)
~ Film summary
~ Film comprehension questions (27)
~ Argumentative essay structure guide
~ Exemplar argumentative essay
~ Argumentative essay rubric
This is the process I use to introduce The Secret and the argumentative essay:
• Begin by asking students if they have ever heard of the law of attraction and
generate discussion accordingly.
• Review the handout “The Basic Premise of the Law of Attraction” and ask for
their initial thoughts on whether it could or couldn’t be true. Invite them to
keep an open mind and have them take notes while watching the film.
• After they have watched the film, review the “Summary of Principles” handout
with them to be sure they have grasped the main ideas.
• Have students complete the comprehension questions.
• Have students research counter claims
• Research reticular activating system: https://youtu.be/QCnfAzAIhVw
• Review argumentative essay structure handout
• Review argumentative essay rubric
• Review exemplar essay & talk about strengths and weaknesses
The film is a fabulous argumentative prompt, and I provide multiple resources in this bundle. This exercise will take at least three 90 minute class periods to complete.