Students Learn to Identify Arguments in Nonfiction

In AP Language and Composition, students learn how to dissect nonfiction texts to discover how an argument is constructed.  Students look for the tools and strategies an author uses, and then they evaluate the effectiveness of that argument.  

Our students have been hard at work building a strong foundation for analyzing nonfiction texts. We have used a popular acronym, SPACECAT,  to help us define the rhetorical situation in famous short passages and speeches. SPACECAT helps the students identify

major elements in the text and organize their ideas into an introductory paragraph and body paragraphs.  The SPACE section helps them identify the speaker, purpose, audience, context, and exigence and can be a base for their introduction and defensible thesis.  The CAT helps them identify choices the author makes; appeals such as ethos, pathos, and logos; and the tone.  These aspects can become the body of their essays.  Students will seek to explain HOW an author constructs an argument as well as how the author’s choices FUNCTION in the argument.

We are currently engaging and practicing with a powerful, diverse range of short texts such as: “Friends, Romans, Countryme,” from Julius Caesar,  Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?”, Chief Joseph’s Surrender Speech, Abraham Lincoln’s “The Gettysburg Address,” WInston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Sweat, and Tears,” and Bush’s address to the nation on 9/11.

Carol Bahadoorsingh
Class: AP Language