What does the prompt say? (Use this column to record the specific wording of each step from the prompt.)
What does this mean to you? (Use this column to state each part in your words.)
Determine the context or background information.
Locate the sources that you will draw from to inform or support your argument.
Identify the broad task of the prompt.
Determine the specific task of the prompt.
Determine the EXPLICIT steps that must be taken to complete the task.
Consider the implicit directions or expectations.
Not Applicable. The implicit part of the prompt is not stated directly. Record the implicit expectations in the next column.
* Analyze Your Sources Using S.M.E.L.L.
A solid understanding of your sources is the first step in being able to have a conversation with them. Review all six sources that are provided for question one (refer to the link on the lesson page). Choose three of the sources and complete the S.M.E.L.L. analysis chart. Be sure to identify the sources you analyze in each column.
S—Sender/Receiver. Ask these questions:
Who is the writer?
Who is the audience?
What knowledge does the audience need coming into the argument?
What are the audience’s expectations?
What is the writer’s purpose?
M—Message. Ask these questions:
What is the overall issue, problem, and/or subject?
What is the claim?
What is the counterclaim?
What is the historical context surrounding the issue?
How is the counterclaim addressed?
Where is the counterclaim addressed?
E—Evidence. Ask these questions:
What evidence is used to support the writer’s claim?
What evidence is used to refute the opposition’s position?
Can the evidence be verified?
Are the sources credible?
Has ample evidence been provided?
Does the writer use more facts, quotes, examples, or anecdotes?
Which audience would find the evidence persuasive?
L—Logic. Ask these questions:
Is the writer’s claim reasonable?
Are the writer’s reasons logical?
How is the argument structured? Which argument styles does the writer employ?
What is the effect of syntax (sentence structure)?
How has the writer connected the evidence and his or her claim?
Has the writer used qualifiers like “some,” “many,” “most,” etc.?
Do you see any logical fallacies?
What types of appeals are being made?
Where are the holes in the writer’s argument?
L—Language. Ask these questions:
What type of diction (formal, informal, scientific, etc.) is used?
Which words have denotative or connotative significance?
What is the writer’s tone?
Which stylistic elements are employed?
Which rhetorical strategies are used?
* Draft Your Claim
Write three possible claims for this prompt.
Write a brief paragraph reflecting on your claim statements. Rank your three possible claims from weakest to strongest and explain your ranking. Which one would you prefer to use? Why? Which claim shows the most complex thinking? Why?
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