Lesson Plan

Counterargument Smackdown!

Students categorize major points and evidences on given topic in a lesson easily customizable to your goals and curricular needs.
Sara J.
Classroom teacher
Fort Bend ISD
Sugar Land, United States
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My Grades 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to...

Identify if a support appeals to ethose, pathos, or logos

Pair arguments to the best counterargument

Identify facts vs opinion

Evaluate support 

English Language Arts
Grades 6 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Prep

  1. Select a topic from ProCon.org and print out the Pro and Con Arguments and cut into cards students will use as manipulative. It is best if you have Pros printed out on one color and Cons on another. Create enough for a pair of students.
  2. Create a Socrative Account. You can either pre-load the questions or do it quick question style.
  3. Create a QR code for the ProCon.org topic if you have a BYOD or iPad classroom
  4. Create a writing assignment for Edmodo 
  5. Get students into pairs

2 Videos

  1. Explain that you are about to show a video introducing the topic you are about to analyze. Have student login to your Socrative to answer the question: Is this video pro, con, or mainly neutral toward the topic? How do you know?
  2. Show the video that is nuetral. 
  3. Review the answers of the students so that you can clear up misconceptions.
  4. If class needs additional support because there were many students who found the video to be biased, show a biased video. Continue to show videos if needed until student have a firm grasp of position.

3 Sorting

Free, Paid

These steps help students become farmiliar with the content of the cards which will help them for the next section.

  1. Pass out a baggie of the cards. Instruct one student to be in charge of pros and the other in charge of cons
  2. Have students put their points in order of most persuasive to least for both pro and con.
  3. Students report via Socrative to compare across partnerings
  4. Review ethos, pathos, logos
  5. As a pairing, studnets work together to examine with points appeal to which of the three appeals.
  6. Have studnets seperate cards into two piles: opinions and facts and report the opinions to Socrative

4 Smackdown Game

Activity: Other — game

Pitching this part as a game with points will create instant engagement

  1. Introduce/Review counterargument highlighting that counterargument is not about presenting something that is better than the opposing side, it is about addressing the opposing argument by showing how it is wrong/moot
  2. Students take turns, keeping track of who wins a point per. To earn a point, a student successfullyfinds a counterargument within their cards.
  3. One student puts down  an argument. The other student is tasked with finding a counter to that argument. If no proper counterargument can be found, the person who put down the argument gets a point. If a counterargument can be found, the other gets a point.

5 Closure

In Edmodo or a similar platform, have students write independent responses to the following:

After examining appeals, facts vs. opinion, counterarguments, and the overall effectiveness of the arguments, which side - pro or con - do you feel is the strongest? Why? Make sure to be specific and address all the components discussed in class.