Student-Led Research Project: Argumentative Writing and Infographics

Logan Ryan

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Introduction

    What is the difference between argumentative and persuasive writing? Although many of us are familiar with the two terms, explicit instruction on the difference between the two terms has led them to be understood as one and the same. As a result, this unit has been created to give students the opportunity to learn the difference, and practice their argumentative writing skills of personal choice. In the process of this learning, students will also engage in learning activities that aim to enhance their research skills by giving them a topic to focus research on, as well as practice evaluating the credibility of online resources. By the end of this unit, students will have an argumentative essay that has been revised and peer-edited, an infographic visual aid that has been generated on the computer, and a presentation of the aforementioned products.

The pedagogical methods used in this unit plan follow a gradual-release model. The first lesson to start the unit will begin with direct instruction, but by the end of the unit ownership will transition to the students. For the rest of the unit, lessons and class time will operate under a constructivist model.

    To support teaching and learning, there will be a heavy emphasis on formative assessments that are reflective in nature. Students will engage in peer-collaboration when they are editing their essays, creating their infographics, and sharing their findings with peers. These peer-collaborations will include assessments such as “critical friends,” and traditional peer-assessment techniques with the use of a rubric and/or checklist. Students will also engage in self-reflection as they contemplate their learning through reflection journals, as well as evaluating their own work with rubrics and/or checklists. Last, the student and the teacher will partake in short conferences to assess student-learning up to that point, as well as the teacher interviewing the student with reflective questions to facilitate the self-reflection process.

    In the end, students will create knowledge through their presentation of research findings in the forms of an infographic and an argumentative essay.

Disclaimer

This unit plan is based off of the work by Kathy Wickline, 6-8th grade librarian and media specialist at Unity Junior High School in Tolono, Illinois. The link to her original plan can be found here.