Building on previous work on accountable talk (Michaels, O'Connor, & Resnick, 2007), scripted cooperation (O’Donnell, 1999), scripted collaboration (Fischer, Kollar, Stegmann, & Wecker, 2013), and guided questioning (King, 2002), we have used what we call argumentation or reasoning stems to facilitate students’ argumentation.
When students engage in argumentation, they may not know the best language to use. What language, exactly, can one use to give and ask for reasons, disagree politely with someone without insulting them, and so on? The issue of disagreeing politely is particularly important, because students may refrain from disagreeing with their classmates because they do not know how to disagree without being rude (or they may disagree rudely on purpose). By becoming aware of language they can use to engage in reasoned argumentation without attacking others, students are better equipped to engage in argumentation.
In earlier implementations of PRACCIS, the teachers and the research team developed argumentation stems that were provided to students. In later implementations, we found that it worked much better when students developed their own argumentation stems. The teacher collects their ideas on a poster displayed in the classroom, and it then becomes a resource for students to draw on as they engage in argumentation. The poster to the right shows the argumentation stems developed by one teacher’s students.