Too Many Firehouses is an introduction to argumentative writing, specifically thesis writing, through an interactive classroom exercise involving primary source interpretation. By the end of the one-class-period assignment, students explore the concepts of primary source bias, authority, reliability and tone while working towards the goal of forming their own "yes, but" statement. This is a perfect introduction for argumentative thesis writing, and can fit into any curriculum. Firehouses is a great one-day, skill-building break for times when you give a test on Thursday and need filler for Friday.
Students act as a city council faced with a budget shortfall. As a result, spending cuts must happen, and the fire protection money lies in the balance. The hitch in changing the older, more-expensive firehouses lies in the culture of the city. Firehouses double as community centers, each with their own local meanings. Students hear from five people, two constituents, the city manager in charge of the budget, the fire chief, and the campaign manager to learn about the issue. In the end, students will provide a solution that balances safety, the city's culture, and the budget crisis.