Claims, Reasons, Evidence,
Acknowledgment and Response, Warrants
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 30-40 minutes
This fast-paced card game has several benefits: students practice
identifying the parts of argument; it encourages them to discuss
what does or does not count as specific parts of one; it helps
them generate arguments quickly; and most students think it's fun.
Use it not only to liven up the class but also to prompt students
to speak up about a text or topic they would otherwise not be eager
to discuss. This game works best after students have had some experience
identifying the parts of argument, but you can return to it throughout
Make two or three decks of index cards of different colors, labeled
with the parts of argument. Each student should receive one claim
card, two reason cards, three evidence cards, one warrant card,
and one acknowledgment and response card.
The game is played by students contributing to an ongoing class
discussion. Each time a student contributes a part of argument,
she discards the corresponding card. The winning team is the one
left with the fewest cards. The first time you play this game,
let it continue until one team has discarded all its cards or neither
team can add to the discussion. But as students gain experience,
set shorter and shorter time limits to make them think fast.
Divide the class into teams, each with different color cards. You'll
need judges to settle disputed cases. At first you can serve as
judge, but it is useful for students to do that themselves.
Announce the topic or question for each round. Any player from
any team can take a turn adding a part of argument to the discussion.
But she must first name the part before discarding a corresponding
card. (Some students prefer tossing the card on the floor, a la
David Letterman.) If a player does not have a card corresponding
to that part of argument, she cannot add the comment.
At any time, a student can challenge a contribution from the opposing
team by claiming that it is not a valid example of the claimed
part of argument. In making the challenge, the student must explain
why the comment should not count as the claimed part. The challenged
player can respond by explaining why it should. If the judges uphold
the challenge, the challenged player must retrieve the discarded
If the discussion begins to slow down before the teams have discarded
most of their cards (especially if some students have few cards
but others have many), call a five-minute time out for the teams
to plan how best to get rid of the rest of their cards. Students
with few cards but plenty of ideas will instruct those slow to
When students get involved, the class can get rowdy. Try to manage
the pace so that students don't talk over one another, but don't
stifle their enthusiasm. Students can be surprisingly inventive
when the game forces them to think quickly. As for strategy, students
will discover that they tend to run out of claim and reason cards
before they have played many of the others. When that happens,
they find it difficult to keep the discussion going. Point out
the strategic value of playing warrant and acknowledgment and response
cards as quickly as possible and playing evidence cards before
they run out of reasons.