Successful argument writing text over concentric circles

Successful Argument Writing

Decisions, decisions, decisions. In life we make decisions all of the time. Sometimes they are easy and sometimes they are life changing. Our students are in the same boat but sometimes they get assessed on their decision making skills especially when argument writing. The biggest piece is not the actual decision that they make, it’s how they support their response. This week we have two awesome tech tools that can help student practices these decision and response skills!

Quandary

Our first tech tool is a game called Quandary. This website is a situational game that teaches students how to use fact vs opinion to make decisions. It is set up like a graphic novel that students can read or have it read to them. Then they need to make decisions for the community based on the information they receive. The game is super engaging and has a variety of situations to pick from. Students have to read, research and make decisions to run a successful future community. It’s a really engaging concept and great way for students to practice!

ProCon.org

ProCon.org home page screenshot

ProCon.org is a site created by Britannica that takes very relevant topics and shows both sides of the issue. The goal is to give reliable nonpartisan information. Each topic gives you a little general information on the topic and then you choose which specific parts are of interest to you. Once you choose then it gives you the pros and cons stated by people in the field. Some are researchers others work in for companies connected to the field of interest. There is so much information but it is very clearly organized and easy to access. I would recommend this site for older students since the there are all kinds of topics to choose from and some may not be recommended for younger students.

I know the decision on what tech tools to you use can be difficult. For those of you that have students setting up arguments, hopefully these sites are helpful!

Have a great week everyone! See you at EdCamp next weekend!

TECH MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Related Episodes:

Shanna Martin 0:19
Thanks for listening to the Tech Tools for Teachers Podcast for each week, we talk about a free piece of technology that you can use in your classroom. I’m your host, Shanna Martin. I’m a middle school teacher Technology and Instructional Coach for my district.

Fuzz Martin 0:32
And I’m her producer and husband Fuzz Martin. And there is no argument that I love podcasting. Ah, cute. There we go.

Shanna Martin 0:42
Through the pun, you get to the fun. Yeah, it’s hard to do a positive argument thing.

Fuzz Martin 0:46
Yeah. Like pros and cons. There’s like, nothing. There’s nothing really. Yeah, it was not easy. But here we are. We’re talking about arguments. We are already

Shanna Martin 0:56
talking about arguments today and ways to support kids and argument writing episode 144. My goodness, chicken through the shift.

Fuzz Martin 1:05
Every time we do a podcast, I feel like the number gets bigger.

Shanna Martin 1:08
Wow. Yeah, maybe maybe because it does. I know. And it’s almost starting to feel like spring kind of I mean, between the snow and then it’s like 40 years and then snow 40. It’s and a bunch of our friends have had snow days in the past few weeks here. And yeah, we’re learning or moving forward. There

Fuzz Martin 1:27
was one day where you didn’t have a school day, but our daughter did. Or a snow day. Correct. But our

Shanna Martin 1:33
school and she was home with you watching at home and all traveling to all of your work meetings. Yeah, that was fine. She

Fuzz Martin 1:39
got to sit through a nonprofit board meeting. As a seven year old. She did pretty good. Yeah, it took copious notes. I’m sure. She cookies and drink chocolate milk. Sounds good.

Shanna Martin 1:51
So we are talking about argument writing this week. Our middle schoolers are working on argument running right now. And I’m always trying to find and the support staff with other resources. Because while when you’re writing argument, writing, when you’re writing argument writing, there’s always like the go to like, these are the topics and what you want to write about. And but you also have to find resources and and you want to give students an opportunity to put some choice in it and things they’re passionate about. So I was thinking through resources to have kids have some practice with argument writing or finding pros and cons or things. And I found this really cool game, to practice this skill set. So it’s not even it’s before you pre write or while you’re writing to kind of break up the writing, and to practice making these decisions where you’re pulling facts and opinions. And when you’re, you’re making big decisions. And you have to choose a side, you cannot sit in the middle and be wishy washy, you have to choose a side. So the game is called quandary, okay. And the website is quandarygame.org. So it’s q u A N D A R Y game, g ame.org. And it’s super cool. So you can sign up and have an account, or you can just play as a guest to try it out. And it’s all free. And the goal is that you are creating a society, like as a captain, and you have to make the decisions to set up a successful society. And there’s like arguments amongst the people in the community. And you have to help solve their problems by making these decisions to make a successful community community. And so it’s like welcome Captain, you play as a guest, you choose which you have two choices of people to be, but then it kind of reads like a graphic novel. So the students do need to be able to read, I would definitely say like upper middle school or middle school, I would say like fifth sixth grade on up, could definitely benefit from this. And it talks to like you’re the first settlement on this planet, this new planet. And it reads like a graphic novel. So gives you some background, you kind of get to see who the characters are. Like, there’s a guy yelling about somebody, keep your robot out of my vegetables. They kind of walk through, you read, like what’s going on in the community. And then from there, after you get the backstory, you learn about the colony. Everybody has a job within the colony. So there’s farmers, there’s doctors or scientists, there’s hunters, there’s like all kinds of people. And then as you go through and you learn about the community, and you read through like the council estimates, decisions and all this kind of stuff, it’s really cool. Then you can choose to again, it’ll switch back like register plays guest and then you get to choose your episode. So you could have decided on lost sheep, the water war fashion faction, mixed messages, and when you choose to play an episode, it then gives you a little bit more of a graphic novel to explain the situation. And then from there, you have to get your facts right. So each card is a person within the society. And then you need to say if that person is going to be a part of the Fact, the other opinion or the solution, so you need to decide like what were their statements fall within what you need to make this decision for the community. And you have to have two facts, two opinions and two solutions correct out of these 12 choices to be able to move on to the next situation. So it’s really cool. It gives you all of this, like practice. So it’s, it’s like developing this community and the society and, and being able to choose facts and opinions and being able to figure out the solutions to the problems. And you make these decisions in order to make the community runs successfully. So it’s a really cool way to practice, like fact and opinion and solution and practice those skills and like kind of a cool gaming, you type, graphic novelty kind of way. So it’s a lot of fun to play. And it’s very informative. And it’s teaching these skills in another way instead of just like reading articles, and polling facts and opinions. So it’s a great way to practice. And it’s very, like visual and kind of fun. And I can tell you’re playing right now.

Fuzz Martin 6:05
It’s pretty compelling.

Shanna Martin 6:07
Yeah, like, you want to know the story, and you want to make the decisions, right. So that way your community is doing it,

Fuzz Martin 6:11
I don’t want to kill the sheep. That’s the problem. So I’m trying to save them from getting the sheep killed, but I don’t want to kill the predators.

Shanna Martin 6:19
So right, you gotta like, gotta make a decision, you gotta make a decision, and you got to feed your people. And you have to make sure that, like, the balance is kept. Yeah, it’s interesting.

Fuzz Martin 6:29
It is interesting.

Shanna Martin 6:30
It’s very engaging. So like, really, when I’m saying play as a guest, you’re gonna end up playing as a teacher, like before you even assign your guests to do it, because it’s really like kind of cool to play through. And so each thing just walks you through the steps, you choose your people. And at any point, you go back to the main menu, and if you’re playing as a guest, it will lose your progress. But if you have your, if you register, then it has your background, your username and your information. So that way you’re able to play successfully. It’s also cool because it will shift from English to Spanish. So you do have that option as well, if you choose that from the beginning, so that’s there. There’s also this is we’re talking about the desktop version of it, they do have an app version of it. So you can play it on your phone. And you can play it on Apple or Google Play. So they do have it available.

Fuzz Martin 7:14
So one other cool thing I see while I’m playing this series, when it brings up the the word bubbles in the graphic novel, if you hover over the text, it does bring up a speaker and it will play the audio for you. So if you have younger students, or if you have kids that have accessibility needs, you can play the audio.

Shanna Martin 7:35
Yeah. And also, if you want to play as a class two, I think it’s kind of a cool way to bring everything in. Yep, that way. So yeah, so there’s just different ways to build this in, I think it’s a great way to set up kids pulling facts and opinion, it’s another way of doing it instead of just writing or dividing. And the game is super engaging. So laundry, game.org, try it out. It’s fantastic. They also have connections for families. So you can play at home as well. It’s a nonprofit. So the whole purpose of it is to strengthen people being able to pull and make decisions in life and taking perspective and empathy and decision making. So that all gets built in. So if you go to the homepage, they have stuff for educators, they have stuff for families, so you can encourage kids to play it at home, as well. Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

Fuzz Martin 8:18
I’ll be playing this all the rest of the

Shanna Martin 8:21
greats. So today,

Fuzz Martin 8:23
take over running the podcast on this side.

Shanna Martin 8:27
We can do both. So that’s quandary which is super fun. And just a way to start. It would be great with setup argument, writing and discussion and things like that. The other site I have for you is like a resource for argument setup, when you’re writing with students is called Pro con.org.

Fuzz Martin 8:45
And what are the pros and cons of this website, Shanna?

Shanna Martin 8:48
Well, let’s talk about them. So it’s created by Britannica. So I know we talked a lot about Britannica, different encyclopedia things. That’s the whole goal of this site is to be reliable. It’s supposed to be nonpartisan, empowering. I will say, this is a great resource for kids pulling up argument writing. I will say you definitely wouldn’t want to be upper middle high school for this site just because of the topics that are listed, depending on the maturity of your students. I don’t know if I would give them to slave free run of this site unless they’re a little bit older. Just because it depends on like where your students are at really like how much they can dive into different issues around the world. So they just may not be as informed if they’re younger students but definitely upper middle school. High school would be great when you go to pro con.org. It gives you a whole step. So they get like the home they have all kinds of issues and the teachers corner which is great because it gives extra lesson planning and things like that. If you go on the homepage, it walks you through, like the new topics they’ve listed in so they’ve got new topics society Add base topics education topics, governments, science and technology, elections and president’s economy in taxes, health and medicine, entertainment and sports, world and international topics, calendars, and other details. So basically, if you find a category you’re interested in, such as science and technology, you know, I do that on occasion, they have a title, you click on space colonization, then it gives you the background information on it. And as you scroll through the article, it’s got dates and research and data, should humans colonize space, they’ve got pros, and cons. And there’s laid out like two pros, two kinds of got three, three different sets of pros and cons. And then there’s discussion questions, and then ways to take action, which is pretty cool. And you can read more articles information on it, and the sources where they’re pulling all this information from, which again, would be super helpful. If you’re having kids research a topic, and they need to go further into it. They can go into those resources and then pull that information to continue writing their speech or writing their argument paper. Under government, they have like lower the drinking age, gun control, immigration, they have all kinds of relevant topics.

Fuzz Martin 11:19
Yeah, some are pretty deep, and yeah, high level. So I guess going back to your original point, making sure that this is, you know, in Yeah, you’re

Shanna Martin 11:26
not just get like free rein, like do whatever you want. I mean, if you older students for sure, like in high school students would definitely be able to do that middle school, depending on what your school at. And you can just you can help your students out too by just giving them a certain link if they need to, if they’re lucky, they have a whole section like school uniforms, like that’s a speech or paper that my students have written before pros and cons arguments on both sides. That one is they even have six arguments, seven arguments, eight 910, they have plenty and school uniforms, pros and cons and ways to look at that, that would be very helpful for students, I would say not all of the topics are going to be helpful for all of the students. So just kind of finding what would be best fit for your students and what they’re looking for. Even society. They have dress codes, and historic statue removal. Like there’s so many different topics, and they’re always adding new ones. They also have another section that was called more issues across the top. And it’s debate topics. So if you do a debate with your students and classroom, I know our high school government teacher does. And students have to set up their debate and have both sides. And so this is a whole nother section that adds additional resources for finding topics, or we need both sides of the issue. So one is like Olympics, and you can go through and look at are the Olympic Games and overall benefit to the host country isn’t pros and cons and what that looks like. So more issues, not just on the homepage, but you click more issues, and it will take you to additional lists of topics that have been popular in the past, and you can bring those back up. So pro con.org has an amazing amount of resources. If you are setting up argument writing for your students, and they need topics and background and research and it’s laid out very clearly, it’s labeled very clearly you can see each side and what they will look like next to each other. And it’s just a fantastic resource for teachers and educators, when we’re talking about argument, writing and setting our students up for both sides of issues, and teaching critical thinking along with all of that as well, which is really cool. So pro con.org procon.org Great resource quandary game, that yeah, that will super like help our students be successful with practicing the arguments and finding facts and opinions and things like that. So both of them should hopefully be helpful when it comes to argument writing and set your students up with both resources and just practice of pulling those facts and opinions and they can help them out that way. Great. So there you go. Episode 144

Fuzz Martin 14:09
144 In the books,

Shanna Martin 14:15
E ducating our students one day at a time one episode at a time.Thanks for tuning in. This has been the Tech Tools for Teachers Podcast. If you ever have any questions you can find me on Twitter at @smartinwi and if you want to get more information on the links and the technology discussed in this episode, you can visit smartinwi.com. If you’d like to support the show, please consider buy me a coffee or two. Is it buymeacoffee.com/smartinwi or is it smartinwi.com and click on that cute little purple coffee cup. Your donations help keep the show going. New episodes each week. Thanks for listening, go educate and innovate.

Fuzz Martin 14:46
The ideas and opinions expressed in this podcast and the smart N wi website are those of the author’s Shanna Martin and not of her employer. Prior to using any of the technologies discussed on this podcast please consult with your employer regulations. This podcast offers no guarantee that these tools will work for you as described but we sure hope they do

 

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