Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rhetoric, Logic, and Argumentation

As a teacher of AP English Language and Junior-Level English, composition is a huge part of my curriculum. Last year, I began experimenting with using information from the AP English Language Curriculum (information on types of arguments and rhetoric) with my Junior-level classes. At this year's AP Conference, I was looking for a resource that would help my AP students get into rhetoric quicker and help my Juniors develop a sense of what rhetoric is and how writers use it. I found that resource (link in the title): Rhetoric, Logic, and Argumentation: A Guide for Student Writers.

This guide, published by Prestwick House, is very useful for any level of composition. It is a slim volume, running no more than 107 pages. It is well-designed, featuring blocks of text that introduce new terms and a summary definition of those terms between the first block of text and the next one. The text seems to be designed around the 10-2 rule of teaching: for every ten minutes of teacher talk, there needs to be at least two minutes of student summary. Once the student is done, there is also a handy glossary at the back defining all of the terms found in the text.

The book has a lot going for it, but it still has its flaws. The text does not get very deep into rhetoric, nor does it discuss the various types of arguments; however, that is why school districts hire us. This resource proves valuable for introducing the topics of rhetoric and argument.

The real gem in this text is the exercise set-up. For each unit in the guide, there are four final exercises. These exercises should just be labeled "climbing Bloom's ladder." In each sequence, the first exercise is called "Identification." These exercises ask the students to identify information that they have just learned. Next, they are asked to provide "Explanation" for something they have just learned. The third exercise calls on students to "Imitate" sound arguments, etc. Lastly, student's are asked to "Evaluate" certain examples based on their learning. Like I said, climbing the ladder.

The imitation piece will be the best part of the text for my students. As a composition teacher, getting my students to try new compositional techniques is difficult. The more chances I provide for them to imitate advanced composition techniques, the more likely they should be to try them out when it comes to essay/paper time.

All in all, I am pretty excited to try and integrate this resource into my classroom repertoire. I found this resource fairly helpful and I couldn't help sharing.

No comments: