By Travis Trombley
Inspired by George Hillocks Jr.'s book Teaching Argument Writing, we have been employing activities that ask students to formalize their schema as general rules or definitions. We teach this as the foundation for inference: observation + background knowledge = inference (or conclusion). The background knowledge becomes formalized as an operational definition or general rule.
In this vein, I thought I might capitalize on the release of BvS and get my students to debate a surprisingly polarizing question: should Batman be considered a "superhero"?
Any Bat-fan students will come equipped to any discussion with a response ready, and they will likely initiate the conversations proudly declaring said opinion. Students who may not share their affinity will need a little more coaxing in order to see the argument as one of definition: what defines a superhero, and people in general, by extension - who they are or what they do?
I wrote two versions: one is more of an editorial format while the other, composed of the same content, is written in a more journalistic style, complete with made up sources. I composed the latter version for another activity in which I asked the students to use textual evidence in writing to support their claim as practice for a research paper, so I wanted them to practice contextualizing content from multiple speakers.