The culminating task for these investigations is the argument students write to respond to the sources and central question in the form of a Counterargument. Counterargument tasks call for students to write speeches in preparation for speaking on a national news talk show or letters to the National Park Service and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In their letters, students write arguments for an interpretation of a historical or social issue that is a part of our lives today while recognizing and rebutting interpretations or evidence that challenge their position. In completing these assignments, students delve into issues of representation, perspective, and context as they work with sources, construct evidence-based responses to the central question, and communicate their arguments to a contemporary audience.
The Counterargument tasks are the culminating form of argument writing in these investigations. Counterarguments, like other arguments, ask students to share Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning in support of their position. However, in Counterarguments, students must also share challenging or conflicting claims and evidence. Students draw on their earlier work with Critiques when they share their Reasoning to critique, rebut, or reconcile possible counterclaims and counterevidence. As they do so, students recognize that multiple interpretations are possible while also reasserting the strengths of their argument. The New World Women investigation introduces students to the work of Counterargument by asking a question that offers two obvious responses; thus students can argue for one response and use the other response as a counterargument as a starting point for Counterargument writing. Subsequent investigations provide a mix of open-ended and forced choice questions. For each investigation, we provide rubrics to assess students' performance. The rubrics identify four levels of development (Beginning, Developing, Proficient, and Advanced) for each component of the argument (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, Counterargument).
In this section of the site, we provide examples of student writing at different levels of performance in establishing claims, evidence, and reasoning for each Counterargument investigation. We annotate student writing to highlight their disciplinary thinking and work. Essays use pseudonyms and identify students as English learners or bilingual writers where applicable (English learner status means the student has been designated as such through the district's assessment process. Bilingual writer means the student reports speaking a language other than English at home.). For each essay, a rubric highlights the level of assessed performance on each aspect of a student's argument.