• Peter Lawrence

Day Two - Argument Structure and The Impact Calculus Tournament

Today, we ventured further into argument structure. Moving beyond the claim, warrant, and impact model of argumentation, we discussed the Toulmin method, which emphasizes the importance of evidence, and argument maps, which combine both methods to visually depict fully deconstructed arguments. Here's an example of an argument map:

This is a pretty simple map. The claim is on the left side, and green boxes provide support for the main claim. Red boxes are objections, or rebuttals, to the main claim. Here's a map that we drew in lab:

A little messy - but you get the idea! We took a break from argument structure to cover presentation and speaking skills. We gave students actual evidence from debate rounds, and explained its formatting. Students then were able to practice speaking drills that worked on clarity, confidence, and efficiency. After these drills, we had our lunch outside.

Once back from lunch, we returned to argument structure, teaching the different frames for comparing relative impacts: magnitude, probability, timeframe, reversibility, and preventability. We covered the importance of focusing on winning one or two of those frames - it's hard to win all five - and then practiced both our impact calculus and speaking skills in an impact calculus tournament. Students debated impacts from cyberterrorism to racism, and tried to frame their impact as the most important. We were excited to hear students debate a second time today, and we saw improvement even over the last 24 hours in many students' confidence, delivery, and understanding of argument structure. We're excited for tomorrow!


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