No Series: Using the Argument Tool

Using the Argument Tool

Lesson Objective: Scaffold understanding of how to create an argument
Grades 6-8 / Science / NGSS


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does the argument tool help students process their thinking?
  2. Why is it important to have students consider both sides of the argument?
  3. How does the argument tool help students evaluate claims?


  • Private message to Taylor Gleave
I can see this being a tool that students are able to use throughout their education. It helps give students a basis of where to start, and that is important for their confidence moving forward within their education.
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  • Private message to Bernadette Haro
This is a great tool for students because they will use this throughout their time is school and their life. This tool helps the students develop a level mind to view both sides of an argument. By seeing both sides with a piece of evidence they can see which argument is stronger. This is a great activity for students to learn how find evidence to support an argument and how to view which argument is stronger.
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  • Private message to Kimbley Fisher
The Argument tools is perfect for all subjects areas. Thanks you so much for providing this instructional strategy on Tch. Mrs. Fisher
Recommended (1)

External Resource Materials


  • Using the Argument Tool Transcript

    William: So now we have to dig a little bit deeper. So if the zebra mussels

    Using the Argument Tool Transcript

    William: So now we have to dig a little bit deeper. So if the zebra mussels are coming in to the Hudson River ecosystem, and they're decreasing the copepods every time they come in, 'cause that's what you said you noticed here, would that be a positive effect on the Hudson River ecosystem or a negative effect? Some new species comes in and decreases the one that's there.

    Speaker 2: Negative.

    William: Negative, all right, so do you know which side to put that on, which side, which claim?

    Speaker 2: [inaudible 00:00:26].

    William: All right, put that in.

    Speaker 3: In the class today we saw William talking with students and guiding them through their task. Students were supposed to be using an argument tool, a writing scaffold to help them with engaging in argument from evidence.

    William: The argument tool is a type of graphic organizer where kids can start to process their thinking in preparing for the argument by listing the claims that they can have for both sides of the argument, weighing those choices, and seeing which one they believe has stronger evidence in the forms of data.

    Speaker 3: I think one of the biggest challenges around argument in science is arguing from evidence. In science, we don't make claims based on our beliefs, we make claims based on the evidence, and we have to reason why evidence is good evidence or strong evidence. We have to be critical consumers of information, especially in today's world.

    William: Where do you think the zebra mussels are?

    Speaker 3: William was helping the group figure out how to make sense of the data and then how to use that data to support a particular claim.

    William: Now take a look at our argument tool. How does this play a role within our argument tool? Can we use that for any evidence on either side?

    Speaker 2: Well, I feel like it's a negative, 'cause like it doesn't stay like approximately the same amount, it just likes ups and downs, so like you change it throughout the [inaudible 00:01:48] time, so it keeps decreasing and increasing.

    William: I started to see students really take ownership of finding specific scientific evidence in the forms of data, citing graphs, citing the book, citing the reading, and I think that is a product of using the tool listing the arguments for both sides. In the past, students would just hear one bit of evidence and just go with that, no matter how strong or weak the evidence was, but having them sit down and look at both sides makes them create a stronger argument.

    Let's hear some strong evidence for, let's go with Claim A.

    Speaker 4: When the zebra mussels first came, they kind of purified the water so that it became more clear.

    Speaker 3: They were looking at this real world data and really thinking critically about whether they would support one claim versus another claim and using an argument tool in order to make sense of this phenomena that they're observing, and I think that's what's unique about an NGSS classroom.

School Details

Brooklyn Secondary School For Collaborative Studie
610 Henry Street
Brooklyn NY 11231
Population: 680

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William Leou


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