Oregon Writing Project at SOU

September 22, 2017, 8:30 to 3:30
Teaching and Writing Argument in a Digital World

Argument Cover.png
Image courtesy of Heinemann
Every day, our students are inundated by information – as well as opinions and misinformation – on their devices. These digital texts influence what they buy, who they vote for, and what they believe about themselves and their world. Crafting and analyzing arguments in a digital world could be our greatest possibility to improve dialogue across cultures and continents... or it could contribute to bitter divides. In this workshop, we will draw from real world texts and samples of student work to share a wealth of insights and practical strategies in teaching students the logic of argument. Whether arguments are streaming in through a Twitter feed, a Facebook wall, viral videos, internet memes, or links to other blogs or websites, we will explore how to engage with and create digital arguments.

Opening Activity


What are you thinking? What are you feeling?

  • TMI! The sheer number of links was overwhelming
  • It was hard to evaluate just from the link itself, you really needed to dig in
  • One of the links went to WSJ (behind a paywall)
  • Why not go to the primary source?
  • I like the form because I naturally read this way, but I don't know that my students do
  • Seems to be relying on the hyperlinks to make the argument that sugar is dangerous, instead his argument is to give it up for a month (who is the audience?)
  • What is the real purpose here?
  • The lifestyle YouTuber blogger -- advertising for certain products
  • Reminds me of what was said about Twitter... and what makes it attractive
  • "Research says..." Now these are actual hyperlinks to the real research
  • Thinking about the idea of all of the links being geared toward the people who are already open to the idea -- how, instead, do we get kids (and adults) to be open change?
  • Thinking about anecdotal evidence -- my students are often based on "I heard this thing..." -- how can I move this into a conversation about experience and when it is good (or not) to base an argument on experience
  • When students think that the hierarchy is upside down?
  • What changes people's minds is their experience. Creative writing (personal narrative) allows them to see something that they had not seen before
  • Connecting this to journalism class -- help them think about how they cite things, and to do so in depth
  • Use this as a way to think about the ads that you are served when watching a video
  • Thinking about the digital journalism idea -- what could we do to change the proficiency grading system (get a poll, do an interview)

external image MMAPS.jpg

Jigsawing the Book

  • Chapter 1: The Nature of Argument in a Digital World
  • Chapter 2: Analyzing Arguments that are Born Digital
  • Chapter 3: The Moves of Argument in Web-based Text
  • Chapter 4: The Moves of Argument in Infographics
  • Chapter 5: The Moves of Argument in Video
  • Chapter 6: The Moves of Argument in Social Media
  • Chapter 7: Coaching Students' Work with Digital Arguments

Options for our day


Crafting Infographics

  • As digital writers, we will need to:
    • Decide on purpose/be open to possibility
      • Mode, media, audience, purpose, situation
    • Research
      • Define
      • Context
      • Gather information
      • Evaluate sources
      • Citations
    • Design
      • Color schemes
      • Layout/readibility - start simple
      • Types of graphs and charts
      • Images - public domain, copyright, Creative Commons
      • Map/steps/process of the argument
  • Why? So What?
    • Different learning styles
    • Accurate citations
    • Synthesizing sources
    • How easy it is to find the data
    • Short form -- must prioritize
    • Doing this before the essay could help them think through their data (what is the best data to use)
    • As a formative/responsive approach -- generates critical thinking in a similar manner as writing
    • Do this work in parallel with their more traditional essays
    • It's fun, and if we make it fun, then they will learn


How are you feeling as a digital writer?
What are you thinking/doing as a digital writer?
  • Delighted
  • Fun
  • Figuring it out
  • Obsession!?
  • Frustration (upsell, not able to envision my project)
  • Making sense/meaning
  • Problem solving
  • Designing
  • Would kids know how to ask the right questions?
  • Provide info
Globalization