This is a sample assignment including complete instructions for completion and expectations for grading. In it, students use Kialo to write a submittable piece of work equivalent to an essay. It includes instructions for the students, expectations for grading, and suggestions for adapting the assignment for your classroom.
This assignment is designed to replace a traditional essay exam, paper, or other writing-intensive activity. In it, students work on their own to construct an argument with organized and concise sections. This assignment is designed for individual students and could be finished in 1-2 weeks. This assignment is best suited for students ages 14 and above, though younger students may be comfortable completing similar assignments with lower expectations around use of sources and scope and detail of material covered.
This assignment assumes that teachers will set up Kialo discussions for their students in advance. For more information on setting up Kialo assignments of all kinds, see Setting Up an Assignment. You can also explore a demo of a debate for this type of Kialo assignment here. If you’re exploring Kialo for the first time, we also have a set of simple guides to integrating Kialo into your classroom.
Content this article covers:
Learning outcomes associated with this assignment:
- Construct and defend a clear thesis
- Organize supporting material into a coherent structure
- Consider and address counter-arguments and conflicting evidence
- Consolidate understanding of content covered in recent classes
- Explore logical connections between ideas to develop cogent arguments
The goal of this assignment is for you to explore one of the subject areas covered in class, in the form of a Kialo discussion. The Kialo discussion you will write is broadly similar to an argumentative essay - you’ll be arguing for a position chosen by you, but you’ll also need to represent and address major objections to the position you’ve chosen to argue.
Step One: Thesis and Main Arguments
Take one of the discussion prompts provided. Based on your chosen prompt, you should develop a thesis - an answer to the question posed by the prompt that you are comfortable arguing both for and against.
To start developing your Kialo discussion, add your thesis as the thesis of the discussion.
The top level of your discussion should contain the central arguments that support (Pro) or challenge (Con) your thesis. Each Pro claim added directly under the thesis should summarize a major argument you intend to develop in favour of your thesis. These claims can be slightly longer and should aim to represent the arguments most central to your discussion. Con claims added under the thesis can be devoted to key counter arguments. Dealing with counter arguments effectively is the hallmark of any effective argumentative piece.
You should strive to add at least four top-level Pro claims and two top-level Con claims. Each top-level Pro or Con should introduce a new argument central to your thesis.
Step Two: Evidence and Analysis
With each major point of your argument introduced as a Pro or Con to the thesis, the next step is to organize your evidence and supporting analysis. Nested Pro claims can be used to embed links to useful resources and add direct quotes, or to analytically support the argument being made. Nested Con claims can be used to highlight potential counter-examples and objections. Every claim you’ve made at the top level of your discussion should be followed by at least three Pro claims and one Con claims.
As you work down through your arguments, new Pro and Con claims can be added to contextualize, support, or refute the claim above them. If a claim is relevant to two different sections of the paper, it is possible to link the same claim in multiple locations.
You will be graded on two areas: development of your arguments, and clarity and organization of your ideas.
In grading the development of your arguments, I will be asking the following questions:
- Does your thesis clearly articulate the connection between your topic of interest and a defensible argument?
- Did you introduce at least four compelling top-level Pros to support your position, and at least two top-level Cons to explore possible counter-arguments? Were all of these Pros and Cons adequately supported?
- Did you use nested claims to provide effective support using textual evidence and outside research when appropriate?
- Have you used nested claims to anticipate objections to your views and develop appropriate responses to them?
In grading the clarity and organization of your ideas, I will be considering the following:
- Do your top-level claims directly support (Pro) or challenge (Con) your thesis claim?
- Do the arguments you make effectively support your overall thesis?
- Are your nested claims directly related to the claims they are posted under? Do they provide clear support or challenges (as contextually appropriate) to the claims above them? Are claims linked to multiple locations whenever it’s relevant to do so?
Suggestions for Adaptation
Below are some ways to extend this assignment or adapt it to different learning objectives or age groups.
Add in Peer Review
In this adaptation, students provide one another with peer review, using Kialo’s suite of tools for commenting and revision. The format of Kialo encourages substantive, actionable feedback that focuses on specific claims and threads. Given the scale of review and feedback required for complete discussions, it is recommended that students be given at least four days to provide feedback to each other, and another four days to implement the feedback they receive.
Additional learning outcomes:
- Identify places to improve an argument
- Communicate content-rich feedback with peers
Additional Student Instructions
Step [x]: Peer Review
Next, please share your Kialo discussion with the other students in your group. They will, in turn, be sharing their discussions with you. You should go through your classmates’ theses and every claim under each of them. You should focus on assessing whether your classmates have made strong arguments for and against their theses, rather than whether you agree with their claims. If you have questions about a specific point or suggestions for how to make it better, you should post in the comment section of their claim. If there is a problem with a specific point or suggestion (it makes a factual error or doesn’t really support the student’s argument), you can use the “Mark for review” feature.
Additional Grading Info
In grading the feedback you gave your classmates, I will be asking the following questions:
- Did you show that you had read each student’s complete discussion?
- Did you provide actionable feedback? Did the questions you ask illuminate important considerations in their arguments?
- Would your suggestions improve their discussion?
- If there were any serious errors or omissions, did you catch them and mark them?
- Were you respectful while providing feedback?
Changes to Scale and Scope
While this assignment assumes a certain number of required claims and sets certain expectations around the use of supporting evidence, depending on the learning outcomes and weight you wish to place on this assignment, you may wish to modify these assumptions. You may wish to change:
- The minimum number of claims students are required to create - increasing the number of claims students are required to create increases the time it will take to complete the assignment and pushes students to dig deeper into the question at hand.
- The time students have to complete the assignment - more time to complete the assignment means more time to consider new arguments or polish content.
- The number of sources students are expected to link or reference - requiring students to find and link sources build research skills and helps students check their instincts and preconceptions about material.
- Whether students complete the assignment during class time or as homework - for younger students, completing this assignment during class time means more support and help when they struggle with a concept.