|Addressing the Counterarguments – Overview
|Use ProCon.org to help students strengthen their persuasive writing by identifying and responding to counterarguments.
|Begin the class by having students choose any controversial issue from the available topics on ProCon.org. Based on their own opinions, as well as any outside research you may want to assign, each student should write a short position paper, including relevant supporting arguments and evidence. Then, using the ProCon.org site, they should read the opposing sides’ arguments and choose three to answer. They should expand their original papers to address the selected counterarguments and explain why their original positions are stronger than the opposing arguments and evidence (or, alternatively, why they find the counterarguments convincing enough to have changed their minds).
If desired, this activity can be done in pairs, with students posing arguments and counterarguments to their partner. Use a peer-editing process to evaluate how well each partner has addressed the counterarguments of the other.
ProCon.org Topics: Any micro site. See full list of debate topics.
Subjects: Social Studies, Public Policy, Civics, American Government, Communication, English / Language Arts, Composition
Common Core Anchor Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.8, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.5, CCRA.W.6
Common Core Content Standards: RI.1, RI.5, RI.8, W.1, W.4, W.6
Make the lesson easier
- Provide sentence starters for addressing counter arguments, such as: “Some might say…” or “opponents often argue…”
- Choose one topic for all students to consider and pose the counterarguments for their responses.
Make the lesson harder
- Assign students to positions rather than allowing them to choose based on personal opinions.
- Require students to refute their chosen counterarguments using three distinct techniques. These could include providing contradictory evidence, exposing a logical fallacy, or uncovering alternative motivations.