Understanding Argument: Graphic Organizers for Reading/Writing Argument

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Understanding Argument: Graphic Organizers for Reading/Wri
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This lesson is based on Aristotle's classical Rhetorical Triangle--but it can be used jargon-free without explaining the concept and with middle school and high school school students at all levels of ability.

The Rhetorical Triangle is a simple way to consider an argument as a whole. It asks readers to consider not just what an argument is about and what the writer's opinion is, but also asks them to consider the context (which could be historical, social, geographic, publishing, etc.) of the original text, the specific intended audience of the original text, and how the writer manipulated elements of language (tone, concession/refutation, connotation, imagery, ethical appeal, etc.) to persuade that specific audience in that specific context. In doing so, students are distinguishing between the writer of the text and the speaker of the text.

The Rhetorical Triangle is also a helpful tool for writers, especially student writers who are typically engaged in writing assignments totally divorced from the idea of audience, context, and purpose. In a writing workshop class room or when a teacher wants students to pursue authentic audiences for their writing, this planner can help students consider who will be interested in their piece, the best context to through which to reach that audience, and what the expectations of that audience will be for the speaker.

Two different graphic organizers are included although they are very similar. One (which I would use first to familiarize students with thinking about a text this way) is a graphic organizer students may use when reading a persuasive or argumentative piece. It is a good guide to helping them read a piece independently in preparation for a more in-depth class discussion. The second graphic organizer is one students may use in the planning stages of writing their own persuasive or argumentative piece. It asks them to consider such things as audience and context--which most students writers do not usually consider--and, therefore, is especially useful in writing workshop class rooms or when for authentic audiences.
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Understanding Argument: Graphic Organizers for Reading/Wri