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Literacy Retreat 2017


Prepare Argumentative Thinkers

Redefine the argumentative thinking process

Skill 1:

Recognize a debatable topic

Introduce modes

Differentiate between informative and argumentative when introducing the three major writing purposes—Persuade, Inform, Entertain.

Maintain a P.E.N. foldable that reveals the writing purposes—to persuade/argue, to explain/inform, to narrate a story/share experiences.

Maintain a P.I.E. foldable that reveals the writing purposes—to persuade/argue, to inform/explain, to entertain/share experiences.

Read literature

Lay that foundation with pictures books and other literature. Start with texts that express opinions.

Move onto literature that reveals multiple perspectives.

Read informational text

Eventually, reveal multiple perspectives within informational texts. The Perspectives Flipbook series offers two major positions on historical events and hot topics.

Several websites offer excellent informative text that reveals hot topics, current trends, and kid-friendly issues.

Browse commercials organized into a variety of categories on

What does the Dawn PSA not say? Check out this blog that reveals that the company sells their products in plastic bottles and Proctor and Gamble tests products on animals. This blog is an argument. (Blog no longer exists.)

Skill 2:

Study the sides; Analyze the perspective

Teach the 4 steps

Teach students to first chart the perspectives before choosing a position. Watch the kindergartners at Concord South Elementary discern between duck details and rabbit details before determining which animal they think is depicted within Duck! Rabbit!

Collect details for all perspectives

Identify details, facts, pros/cons, strengths/weaknesses, etc. for all sides.

Skill 3:

Write the opinion/thesis statement

State the position on a narrow topic

The strength in an opinion sentence/thesis statement is knowing its limitations.

Qualify the opinion

Skill 4:

Generate reasons supported by details

Collect details to infer reasons

Download a list of statements for/pro and against/con genetic engineering. These are the ones students sorted within the mini-lesson video below.

Practice sorting details

  • List and then organize information using an ABC Chart.
  • Create categories of grouped information using List, Sort, & Label (Notebook version).

Create your own simple flashcards for any hands-on sort using

  1. Type facts and categories into the table.
  2. Click PDF to move to the next screen.
  3. Modify settings and/or click “View PDF.”
  4. Print flashcards from this same screen.

Skill 5:

Present ideas with an appropriate tone

Start with video clips

It’s not just what is said but how it is said. Recognize the power of body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures in communicating attitude.

Skill 6:

Acknowledge the opposition

Share the floor

Provide students ways to actively listen and respond to one another’s ideas. During class conversations, Talk Moves are a fabulous technique to foster this notion. And check out the first grader who “respectfully disagrees” with a peer during a close reading (at approximately 4:30 in the video).

Apply 4 Talk Moves in whole-class discussion.

Resources for argumentative writing