Writing Prompts Open Up Learning


By: Linda Aragoni | November 27, 2019

This formal writing prompt is designed to make students consciously aware that word choices can slant even definitions.  The prompt is suitable for English and social studies classes for high school juniors and seniors or for college students.

The prompt requires students to defend an opinion, but it does not require argument. The defining characteristic of argument is the identification and attempted refutation of the opposing position. Without refutation, there is no argument.

The writing prompt introduction students see

Globalization is a term we hear nearly every day. What does it mean?

Consult at least a half dozen reputable sources for their definitions. Notice:

  • Do the definitions provided by each source agree?

  • If they don't agree, are their definitions totally at odds or do they disagree over a few specific points?

  • Does the wording of the various definitions suggest an inclination to regard globalization either positively or negatively?

Students' assignment

Based on your analysis, craft what you believe to be a definition of globalization that is neutral; that is, a definition that is neither enthusiastic about globalization nor opposed to it.

Using the neutral definition you crafted, write an informative/explanatory text in which you explain how according to your neutral definition globalization either is or is not good for America. Format your text for reading as a digital document, using hyperlinks to any sources you cite.

Please keep your text to under [words].

Suggestions for students' success

You may work with a partner or group if you want to increase the number of sources you examine and have the benefit of more than one point of view. It is probably unwise to have more than a dozen sources or more than four people in your group. With too much material, you'll never get through the assignment. 

Even if you prepare as a group, each person should write his or her own text: Group writing is rarely successful and it's often a complete disaster.

A word of warning: Don't assume that people whose position you agree with define globalization in the same way you do. Also, don't assume that people with whom you disagree define globalization the same way you do.
One reason political arguments can get heated is that, without realizing it, two people often use the same terms with different meanings.


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