Using Argument Lines

Argument lines are a tool for improving discussion of a scientific question with two plausible answers. The two answers are posted at opposite ends of the room, and students line up between them, standing close to one answer if they believe it’s correct, or in the middle if they aren’t sure.

The teacher can then prompt adjacent students to talk with each other, explain and justify their positioning, and redistribute themselves along the line if their ideas have changed. The teacher can also expand these discussions to the whole class, asking students to explain and justify where they are standing individually (“explain why you are standing close to Choice B, but not all the way there”) and relative to each other (“explain why you are close to Choice B, but not as close as your classmate who just spoke”). As discussion continues, students can keep repositioning themselves on the argument line to reflect their changing views.

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The Reading to Learn in Science Team



Development of Reading to Learn in Science was led by Jonathan Osborne (Stanford University) through a SERP collaboration. Support for Reading to Learn in Science was provided by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education through grant number R305F100026. The information provided does not represent views of the funders.

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Reading to Learn in Science