I have the students begin class by writing for five minutes about whatever they know about the impact of school sports on student growth and achievement. I tell the students that they are to write for the entire five minutes, regardless of whether they need to jump around between ideas, or do not have a very clear flow. I reassure them that the process is more about digging deep and putting as much down on paper as possible.
As they write, I move about the room to make sure they follow the expectations and write for the entire five minutes.
When the timer goes off, I have the students read what they wrote aloud to their table groups. This process takes right about five minutes, give or take a couple. It helps to have them share ideas and develop an increased collective understanding, plus it provides many of the students with fresh or opposing perspectives which I address directly in the resource: Broadening Our Perspective to Include That of Others. This will prove invaluable to them later on.
Students then read through the Article Should Your School Get Rid of Sports Article from Scholastic SCOPE magazine. This article presents both sides of the argument pretty reasonably, which presents a good example of balanced writing on a topic. I ask the students to read the article twice. The first read is for general comprehension. The second read is for the students to trace the argument presented for both sides of the issue.
Students then work independently on the Tracing the Argument School Sports packet that helps them to trace both sides of the argument presented in the article. It requires them to focus specifically on specific textual evidence as they work through the arguments presented.
After working through this article, I ask the students to decide which side of the argument was best supported by the evidence presented. I remind them that I am not asking them which side they are on or which side they most agree with, just which side is best supported by the text. After giving them 30 seconds or so, I ask them to talk about their opinion with the members of their table groups, with an effective justification.