Building an argument tower with thesis, antithesis, synthesis

Today we built an ‘argument tower’ in class. The idea was found by my colleague Sara, on this AP Word History blog, written by Jonathan Henderson. There are also a few Tweets about “argument towers”.

I used the ‘Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis‘ argument structure to help students construct an effective paragraph or essay. You can also use “Contention – Example – Evaluation” etc. Works for English, Philosophy, Geography or any area where students have to argue something.

What’s needed:

Students write a thesis, antitheses and a synthesis on each colour paper. Then they read eachother’s contentions and then they build the tower by cutting small slits in the middle piece of paper.

The Thesis / Antithesis / Synthesis strategy, the different colours paper and the symbolic building of the tower worked really well.

If I do it again, I will take more time for it and give the students more time to read eachother’s contentions. I think where I went wrong today is that the able students did this quickly and very well, but the weaker kids struggled, were not as fast and therefore didn’t get the full benefit from this strategy; which is: Learning how to evaluate / analyse a contention and providing a counterclaim and a personal summary.

I want to do better for the weaker students so I might do this again and provide more examples and more time.