Point & Counterpoint

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This lesson was originally designed to be used with 5th graders who are getting ready to write a persuasive business letter. The class will work together to write a well thought out and worded persuasion while also addressing opposing views.

  • Read Hey, Little Ant’’ by Phillip and Hannah Hoose.
  • Create a shared tree map on the board or somewhere else. There should be 2 branches. Label one Yes (for yes he should step on him) and the other No.
  • As a class, add the arguments for both sides.
  • Yes
  • The boy is so much bigger, it won’t hurt
  • The ant is just an unimportant speck
  • The ant steals food
  • The boy’s friends say he should squish the ant
No
  • The ant has nest mates that depend on him
  • Just one chip can feed the whole ant town
  • Allow students time to discuss in small groups, what they think should be done. They must discuss reasons for their decision.
  • As a class, discuss the choices before taking a class vote.
  • Whether individuals all agree or not, the class is going to write a letter to the boy, explaining the decision the class voted for.
  • Write this letter together, as a shared writing activity. Writing on the board is one option, projecting a Word document that you type is another option.
  • Have students copy as you address the letter to the boy.
  • Write an opening paragraph that simply states the class decision to the boy (We are writing to let you know that we do not think that you should step on the ant. There are some good reasons for our decision. We hope that you will listen to them and consider our decision.)
  • Choose one argument to discuss first. Have students give their side of the argument with an explanation. Then have them write a brief consideration/dismissal of the opposing view. (It is important to remember that the ant has a whole ant town that is depending on him. He is an important part of their community. They need him to help build tunnels and bring in food. You may think he is not important just because he is small, but there are other small ants that depend on him.)
  • Choose a second argument to write about together. (Another point to consider is that any food the ant takes from you is much appreciated in his town. One small chip can feed his entire town. That one crumb makes a big difference. We understand you may find it annoying when he takes your food, but it is a small price to pay to feed an entire town.)
  • Pick a third argument (you shouldn’t always do things because of peer pressure) and discuss the argument and counter arguments for it. Allow students to write this paragraph on their own, for some independent practice.
  • Work together as a class to write a short closing paragraph. Sign and complete the letter.
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