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Raghda Abulnour

The Critical
Thinking Consortium

Mini-Critical Challenge Planning Template


Grade:

Topic/Issue: Construct a compelling argument

State the Critical Challenge:


I am in your shoes - construct a compelling argument after putting oneself in multiple
shoes or after presenting through different lens a new topic discussed, a problem
presented, or an article read.
Identify the Type of Challenge:

Critique the Piece


Judge the Better or the Best
Decode the Puzzle
Re-work the Piece
Design to Specs
Perform to Specs

Explain the Critical Challenge:


In this challenge students will illustrate an understanding of a compelling argument by
role-playing positions of multiple viewpoints within one story or towards one problem or
specific topic, and then reflecting by constructing their own resultant personal positions
within the compelling argument.
Synopsis of the Critical Challenge:
By drawing together the pieces of the challenge identified so far, craft a paragraph
overview of the critical challenge that will be used to engage students and address the
overall expectations e.g.
Share an article or read a story with students. Then let the students list two or three main
characters/groups, or main items in the story/article. Teacher can model this by choosing
one character (ex: Harry Potter), or one group (Aboriginal people), or one item (Plant
cells) depending on the subject. It can be communicated that the characters do not
necessarily have to be in a plot but can be within the context of the topic (ex: audience
reading the story, groups presented in the textbook, person writing the article..etc.) so

Raghda Abulnour
teacher can initially ask who is involved. After listing the characters students shared,
divide the class into teams in accordance with the number of main characters brought up
(preferably not more than three). Allow the students to be one of the main
characters/items for say five minutes. So in the first five minutes, allow students to think
of how to defend their characters position in the story. Then switch the roles so the
students get another character, and again allow five minutes to think of how to defend
their new position. Then, if there is a third character, then allow the switching role again
so that the students get the last character and think for another five minutes on how to
defend his/her position. After 15 minutes, all students would have been put in each of the
characters shoes and tried to defend each position. Students will then share, one
character at a time, what they wrote down as a defense for each character and look at how
similar or different their responses are. This raises student awareness that they may not
realize that any story or lesson is set up from one particular point of view and hence,
before judging, one needs to put him/herself in multiple lens or others shoes to really
find which stance he/she prefers in a compelling argument. After this activity, we will
bring the class together and discuss what students came up with as they role-played each
of the two or three characters. Based on their group work and subsequent discussion with
the whole class, students then write a reflection on their personal position: who they
agree or disagree with (or feel even neutral about) or a reflection about what they learned
in that activity (again depending on the nature of subject and subsequently the nature of
this activity within the subjects context). This is when they construct a compelling
argument after putting themselves in others shoes and have educated themselves on the
subject matter through different viewpoints. One of the major suggestions for
constructing a compelling argument is: studying not only your side of the argument, but
any potential opposition as well.
It is important to note that this critical challenge can be applied across subjects as
the characters do not have to be human or animal characters in a plot, but can be any item
that is a crucial part in a lesson or people involved within the context of the lesson (for
example, in Science the characters can be an animal cell versus a plant cell, or in History
the groups can be British Empire versus Aboriginals viewpoints, or in Math the
characters can be teacher explaining lesson on measurement versus student learning the
lesson on measurement).

Teaching the Tools


Background Knowledge:
Students will need to know the content before participating in the compelling argument
(ex: 1) if article or story, they need to read it, 2) if video then they need to watch it, 3) if
lesson then they need to learn a bit about the topic or research it beforehand). Also,
students may need to know what does compelling argument mean and what are some
criteria or factors involved in making one. In addition, depending on the type of students
in class, communication may be needed on the difference between presenting using one
viewpoint versus presenting using multiple viewpoints by providing models/examples
and discussing with students; for example a specific plot of a story, alternative ways of

Raghda Abulnour
teaching a particular science or math lesson, a way of writing a historical event in the
textbook.
Criteria for Judgment:
What criteria will help guide students in their learning and frame their deliberations?
Criteria for a compelling argument :
Organized factual points
Listening skills and mutual respect.
Passion, relevance, and coherence in presentation
Control over facial expressions and word usage.
Critical Thinking Vocabulary:
Which terms relating to thinking need to be unpacked with the students in order for them
to understand the challenge and to respond appropriately?

Open-minded.
Constructive.

Thinking Strategies:
What thinking strategy(ies) will best assist students in processing the information they
have gathered (see connections, draw plausible conclusion, read between and beyond the
lines).
Brainstorming or discussing both in groups during the activity and then with
whole class after the activity.
Individual reflection during the activity (when taking 5 minutes to think of how to
defend the position he/she is role-playing) and at the end after the discussion with
whole class.
Habits of Mind:
Identify 1-2 central habits of mind and explain how they will be explicitly addressed
through the critical challenge.

Listening with empathy and managing impulsivity.


Thinking flexibly and thinking about thinking (metacognition).

Raghda Abulnour

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