Lesson Plan Template: Argumentation
Teacher will show select video excerpts from "Jurassic Park" and then ask students, "If the technology were developed to bring dinosaurs back from extinction, would that be beneficial or detrimental to society and why?" Have students take a few minutes to write their answer to the question. Collect the papers and read some of the answers to open a discussion on the value of technology to society as well as the value of ethics. Teacher should not express an opinion on either.
Teacher should then ask, "As an educated individual and a member of society, which is more important to you personally, the continued development of newer, more innovative gadgets, such as an automobile that can drive itself, or the ethical considerations that should go into the development of such new gadgets?" Have students take a few minutes to write their answers to this question. Collect and read a few of the answers to continue classroom discussion. Teacher should not express opinion.
Feedback to Students
Students will be given 3 days in the media center during class time to research a list of 8 controversial topics and collect 2 pages of pertinent information on each, using the following websites:
Some possible resources for ethics research:
Teacher will offer feedback on the quality of the information gathered. Students will be given one additional day in media center to refine their research and receive additional feedback from teacher.
Students will use this information to construct their position in a technology / ethics debate.
Students will also receive feedback on their debate performance in the form of their team scorecard. (See Scorecard attached to lesson plan)
Teacher will determine that students have reached learning targets if they demonstrate the ability to effectively debate both sides of a controversial topic.
Students will reflect on the experience and write about the importance of maintaining a balance between ethics and technology in solving societal problems.
Learning Objectives: What will students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Students will demonstrate the importance of considering several strategies for solving society's problems, taking into account various costs and benefits to society, economic, environmental and ethical.
- Students will demonstrate the value of compromise when solving societal problems.
- Students will demonstrate the importance of providing evidence when presenting a point of view.
- Students will explain the importance of using scientific knowledge, reasoning, and ethics, in society's decision making.
- Students will be able to present information with supporting evidence on the pros and cons of many controversial societal issues.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What are some benefits of innovative technology to us?
- What are some possible dangers of technology?
- Which is more important to the betterment of society, new technology such as a 3 D printer, or the ethical considerations of what might be created with a 3 D Printer?
- How does one decide how much technology is too much?
- Give an example, real or imagined, of how technology could be dangerous.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
- Students should have some prior knowledge about a few of the issues selected for the debate and why they are considered controversial.
- Students should have some prior knowledge about some of the current technology being used in the United States.
Identification of the Task: How will the teacher introduce the major topic to be studied and capture students' interest?
Teacher will show selected excerpts from Jurassic Park, and discuss some of Michael Crichton's quotes from the book such as:
"But now science is the belief system that is hundreds of years old. And, like the medieval system before it, science is starting not to fit the world any more. Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways---air, and water, and land---because of ungovernable science." Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
Teacher will open a class discussion of the movie and whether it would make sense ethically to bring back dinosaurs if it were technologically possible. Following the discussion, students will brainstorm to develop a list of controversial issues affecting society in which incredible technology has been developed to solve problems, but left unregulated could possibly have adverse results.
As students come up with ideas, list them on the board. When the list is finalized, have students vote on the top 8 for the debate. If students have difficulty starting the list, here are some ideas for consideration to get them started. (Don't offer more than a couple, let them do the rest)
- Space exploration - beneficial to society or the huge amount of money used for this could be better spent on something else?
- Is the cost of stem cell research worth the benefits?
- Do the benefits of cell phones outweigh the possible risks?
- Buy the CD or illegally download the music?
- Should performance enhancing drugs be allowed in sports to increase the entertainment value to the viewer?
- Should prosthetics be allowed in the Olympics?
- Should humans attempt to colonizes space?
- Are the benefits of nuclear power worth the potential risk?
- Are 3D Printers beneficial to society or could they be dangerous?
- Should there be mandatory sterilization for serial rapists?
Data Generation: How will students collect and/or use data, tools, models, and/or theories?
Students will be divided into 4 teams. (A fun way to do this is to have several quarters in a container with four different states of issue, and have each student choose one. Then say everyone who chose Florida is on team 1, everyone who chose California is on team 2, etc.) Each team will divide all of the selected issues among their members for research, so that every student will be responsible for 2 issues. Provide students with 4 class periods in the media center to conduct their research. Students should be provided with a list of reliable websites and scientific journals for their research. Students should have 2 written pages of valid research for each topic. (These may be bullets, but should be cited)
The media teacher will usually be glad to provide students with a list of reliable resources for their research. Students should research both sides of each issue as they will not know which side of an issue they will argue until the day of the debate.
Here is a short list of websites and journals and the Media Director can provide a more extensive list.
Production of a Tentative Argument: How will the students generate an argument that can be easily communicated by others?
Teams should devise a thought provoking question for each topic.
Ex: " When scientists develop the ability to clone a human, does that give them the right to clone people for spare parts?"
Argumentation Session: How will the students propose, support, evaluate, and refine each other's ideas?
Students will bring in a list of main points for each of their topics along with the resources they used to decide on their main points. They will share with their team members in order to evaluate, revise and perfect their argument prior to presenting it to other teams.
Written Report: What guidance will students be provided with when developing a report of the investigation?
The written report will be the student reflection on the debate. They will reflect on their own performance, their team performance, any other team or student that impressed them, and any change of opinion they experienced during the course of the debate as a result of a point made. Teacher will provide a rubric for students to use as a guideline for their research, debate, and reflection report.
Peer Review and Revisions: How will students review, critique, and revise ideas?
Students will bring in copies of their research along with the source for review by teacher, the judging team, and their debate team. Informal peer review will be done by members of the each team on the day prior to the debate as each member presents his/ her ideas to the team in order for team members to refine arguments and put together their ideas to argue the next day, understanding that any point which cannot be supported with documentation will not be scored.
Reflective Discussion: How will the students be given opportunities to reflect on what they have learned and how to improve for future investigations?
Students will review a copy of the score sheet along with comments from the judging team and the teacher. Students will be provided an opportunity to write a self reflection on their own performance and their team performance, listing specifically what they did well and what they could have improved on.
Additionally, students will discuss any changes of opinion they might have experienced on the issues based on arguments made during the debate.
Lastly, students will reflect on the significance of maintaining a balance between incredible technology and ethical constraint against the misuse of such technology.