Evaluating Proposed Solutions

Educators today are using blogs as a way for students to practice writing persuasive and argumentative essays based on current events.  Some middle and high school teachers are not sure how to guide their students in ways that will assure the proposed solutions backed by solid evidence.  Some students are unclear about how to evaluate their solutions and to present their arguments in ways that will be compelling to their peers and to other readers of their posted blogs.
See options below and decide which direction you can go to design lessons to add depth to student thinking and clarity to aid others understanding the offered solutions if the students’ writing includes reasons they believe their advocated solution will solve the problems they’re addressing.
Scales - Persuasion
As a start, consider the challenges used in tournament debate.  These will work with pretty solid high school students.  See CRITERIA FOR JUDGING .
Here are some basic questions to ask about solutions offered for problems identified that can work with middle school students:
Is solution DESIRABLE? In other words, who would be helped by this solution? What harm would be diminished?  Says who? (quotes from experts in the field.  Examples of real people helped or harmed.)
Is solution AFFORDABLE? What would it cost to put solution into place? (Quote reliable sources.) Who will pay?  Is solution worth the cost?
Is solution ENFORCEABLE? Who would enforce the solution? Local, state, federal, international forces?
Is solution CONSTITUTIONAL? Quote from the US Constitution some tenet of that document that shows the legality of the student’s proposed solution.
 Even more basic, if there is no time for teaching the above approaches, is to encourage students to write more compelling arguments that appeal to audience (readers or listeners) in there ways.
That means using facts, statistics; stories of real or imagined people; and costs – savings, or worthwhile expenditures. See TO CONVINCE OR PERSUADE.
The value of this kind of instruction is that students will become more critical listeners/readers …. especially during the political election seasons.
To get them started, consider this in-class activity.  SPAR DEBATE
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