Class begins with each student making a short list of the pros and cons presented in each of the articles they selected during the research process. I find that the students are better able to do this as a result of a modification I made to the graphic organizer they utilized for note taking. I address this modification and its impact in the resource: Using the Graphic Organizer.
I only give them 10 minutes for this process because I asked them to annotate the articles the night before for homework. In order to facilitate a resource share-out that is effective and efficient, I make sure each student will have a brief list to share already prepared prior to the discussion.
For the next 35 minutes or so of the class period, students share information gleaned from each of the articles they selected as resources and listed on their Source Info Graphic Organizer form. Since table groups have 3-4 students, each student is given roughly 8-10 minutes to share the information they found in their articles.
Students are able to use one another's article(s) as a resource if they find that another student has a stronger article, or one that better addresses one of the sides of the argument. Since the students do not yet know the position they will be writing from, it is extremely important they have enough information about both sides of the argument. Strong argument writing addresses both sides of the argument fairly and accurately, using the evidence to refute the opposing viewpoint.
To wrap up the class period, I have the students draw a position out of the Magic Bag, so they are not just selecting the side they most agree with, but instead demonstrate their ability to present a strong and effective argument. I know that this will provide a great challenge for some of them, but I think it is important to stretch their skills.