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Argumentative Writing Resources

Good Resources for Debates and Argumentative Writing:  

http://idebate.org/


http://www.procon.org/


http://millercenter.org/debates


http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Welcome_to_Debatepedia‚Äč


  1. ProCon.org: an independent non-profit founded by Steven C. Markoff “to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias.”

Strengths:

    • Best student-oriented background information on each issue, including videos, political cartoons, and infographics
    • 40 current controversial issues
    • Each issue contains a “core question” and multiple sub-questions that address constitutional, policy, and ethical issues
    • Extensive list of pro and con arguments for each question, excerpted from major newspapers, and experts’ and political leaders’ words
    • Credibility of each source is rated with 1-5 stars based on procon.org’s“theoretical expertise ranking”
    • Lesson plan ideas

Weaknesses:

    • No hyperlinks to original sources
    • Some issues are not related to public policy or the Constitution
  1. National Discussion and Debate Series: video, text, and links from debates at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. This program was created “to encourage a vigorous, well-informed discussion on the national stage about the major issues of our time.”

Strengths:

    • Centered around video footage of a live debate among well-known experts in a formal setting
    • .pdf transcripts of each debate
    • Excellent examples of civil discourse and debate techniques
    • High-level academic "white paper" backgrounders and "jump to" background videos from PBS Newshour

Weaknesses:

    • Content is designed for high-level readers with some background knowledge of the issue; background information may be inaccessible to struggling readers
    • Only 13 current controversial public policy issues
    • Updated annually, does not include very recent developments
  1. Debatepedia: “the Wikipedia of debates…an encyclopedia of pro and con arguments and quotes. A project of the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), "Debatepedia utilizes . . .wiki technology . . . to engage you and other editors in centralizing arguments and quotes found in editorials, op-eds, books, and around the web into comprehensive pro/con articles.”

Strengths:

  • Unlimited number of issues
  • Constantly updated by users
  • Students can add content

Weaknesses:

  • Like Wikipedia, content is added by users—not professional editors—so quality and credibility can be questionable
  • Many issues lack depth
  • Background information is minimal for many issues