• Peter Lawrence

Day Two - Delving into Argument Structure and The Cross-Ex Challenge

As of the time I'm writing this, we've already had discussions on persuasion, general presentation, and argument structure, introduced a number of debate exercises and activities, and begun a tournament - it's hard to believe it's only been two days!

After check-in, we started the day with a fun energy-building warmup to wake up students and get them engaged before any of the lectures.

Our first lecture of the day was Argument Structure: What Makes (or Breaks) an Argument? We had already learned about the claim/warrant/impact triad, but spent time this morning discussing two more complex alternative models of argumentation: the Toulmin Method and the Argument Map. They each have strengths and weaknesses, but either is sufficient to gain a better understanding of how to construct and deconstruct arguments. By teaching both, students can latch onto whichever makes more sense to them, helping them get a picture of how arguments are structured. We then moved into Presentation: How to Deliver, learning about different ways to improve public speaking, from sitting up straight to enunciating to projecting (but not shouting!). Fun games associated with this skill includes Like, Um, Uh, where students are given a topic and must discuss it without using these filler words for an entire minute. Our last activity before lunch was the beginning of The Cross-Ex Challenge, where students are given topics and must first challenge and then defend them in a cross-examination. Topics ranged from the abolition of prisons to building the wall between the United States and Mexico - we want to make sure students are learning from multiple perspectives!

We were able to eat lunch outside again today, though it was certainly getting warm. Students were able to play sports, but many opted to sit in the shade and talk instead. For those who were feeling overheated, we had a chaperone inside to engage them.

In the afternoon we returned to argumentation with the Argument Structure: Winning Your Impact lecture. We talked about the magnitude, timeframe, and probability of various impacts, and the lesser-known qualifiers such as reversibility, inevitability, and how to control/turn an impact. This knowledge was soon put to the test with the beginning of our Impact Calculus Tournament, where students are given impacts and must outweigh opponents' impacts all the way to the final round. This will continue tomorrow!

We have been having such a great time instructing these kids so far. They are all contributing and engaging in critical discussions about debate; it makes us happy to see them happy! We hope they are enjoying the opportunities to learn advanced skills while also getting to take breaks with more light-hearted games. If you have any questions about the activities we're doing, send us an email at!

#crossex #argumentstructure #impacttournament #delivery #thecrossexchallenge


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