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How to Argue with a Cat Teacher’s Guide

By Jay Heinrichs

How to Argue with a Cat by Jay Heinrichs

How to Argue with a Cat Teacher’s Guide

By Jay Heinrichs

Category: Humor | Pets



Please click on the PDF link at the bottom of this page to download the Teacher’s Guide.

About the Book

If you can persuade a cat, you can persuade anyone. This is the essential guide to getting your way. Jay Heinrichs, award-winning author of Thank You for Arguing and advisor to the Pentagon, NASA, and Fortune 500 companies, distills a lifetime of negotiating and rhetoric into a single volume to show you how to win over anyone—from colleagues and bosses to friends and partners at home (and even the most stubborn of feline adversaries). You’ll learn to: perfect your timing (learn exactly when to pounce, get your body language, tone, and gesture just right), think about what your opponent wants (always offer a comfy lap), and how to lure them in by making them think they have the power. The result? A happy, hopefully scratch-free, resolution.
About the Author

Jay Heinrichs is the New York Times bestselling author of Thank You for Arguing, who spent twenty-six years as a writer, editor, and magazine publishing executive before becoming a full-time advocate for the lost art of rhetoric. He now lectures widely on the subject, to audiences ranging from Ivy League students and NASA scientists to Southwest Airlines executives. He runs the language blog as well as the rhetoric site He lives with his wife and their cats in New Hampshire.
Note to the Teacher

There are many ways How to Argue with a Cat can be taught and integrated with curricula: as a main textbook, a supplementary text, an example of persuasive writing, prompts for debate, prompts for student response papers, and more. The text has ten short lessons that explain rhetorical concepts through examples of cats and humans. Few other books teach rhetoric while simultaneously practicing what they preach through a lively conversational writing style.
The instructional materials below offer activities for each chapter. Teachers should adapt them into assignments that best suit the context. For example, each activity can be assignments for individuals, groups, or prepared demonstrations. These activities can also be adapted for written, spoken, or multimedia formats. Teachers should note that rhetorical concepts are tools to both produce persuasion and analyze persuasion.
This guide begins with pre-reading activities for stimulating students to personalize the book’s lessons. Next, the questions for discussion are useful before, during, and after reading the text. Then, the chapter exercises help ingrain rhetorical concepts into student practices. Lastly, synthesis activities provide opportunities to combine chapter concepts and to practice making arguments at any point in the reading process.
While the author wrote How to Argue with a Cat with readers of all ages in mind, its reading level is appropriate for students in grades 6 and above. In addition, the book supports the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Reading, Writing, Speaking/Listening, and Language for high school curricula, which makes the text useful for Language Arts or Literature classes, as well as Advanced Placement® courses in English Language & Composition. At the college level, the book is appropriate for courses on Rhetoric/Composition, Literature, and Communication, and for first-year or common reading programs. Below, each chapter exercise references the related Common Core State Standard that it fulfills. For a complete listing of the Standards, go to:
Pre-Reading Activities for Writing, Speaking or Group Work

Rhetoric has to be personalized and digested in order for students to produce strong arguments and develop critical habits of mind. These pre-reading activities help make students receptive to learning rhetoric and will prepare them to integrate concepts from the book.

   • List the cats that you can access. This will help you locate your test cats for this book.  Do the same with humans. Who are the people you can apply this book to in your life?
   • Cat inventory. List the attributes of the cats you can access, such as age, breed, personality, history, relationship to owner, and any other information relevant to communicating with them.
   • Spend ten minutes with a cat trying to “argue” with it about something. What do you notice? This experience will serve as your initial diagnostic reference as you start reading through the book.
   • Cat videos. Find five videos of cats on the Internet and aggregate them into one master list with your group. They will serve as case studies for you to analyze cat/human interactions.
   • Topics bank. To supply content for the chapter exercises, each student should answer the following questions:
   • What are the four matters about which you are most knowledgeable?
   • What are eight topics that interest you?
   • What are five questions on which you would like to hear an intelligent debate?

Aggregate these lists into one master list available to students. Students will draw from this master list for chapter exercises that ask them to select a topic.

   • Select three rhetors (public speakers) whom inspire you. Watch footage of them speaking and make a list of exactly what they do in their speech that inspires you. What lessons about speech can you learn from them?
   • Select three rhetors whom you dislike. Watch footage of them speaking and make a list of exactly what they do in their speech that you dislike. What lessons about speech can you learn from them?
   • Your personal argument museum. Consider your personal argument history:

   • What is your earliest memory of an argument? Why might you have remembered this?
   • What were some of the most important arguments of your life? Why where they important? How could you have handled them better?

   • What does the word “argument” mean to you personally? Where do arguments happen, how do you feel about arguing, and how should they be done best? What word might better replace “argument”?
   • What are the implicit rules of argument? List the game rules of argument in the style of an official sports rules book. There can be many different answers.
   • Arguing style. People have different styles of arguing. What are some of their differences?

   • Parents’ argument style. Make two columns with each of your parents’ names at the top of each. List aspects of each parent’s argument style. How do they argue? What do they say? What is their mood, tone, and emotion? What, when, where, why, and with whom do they argue? For how long? How long do they remember the argument afterward?
   • What is your personal argument style? How is it similar to or different from your parents’ styles? What animal best represents your argument style? Does your answer depend on the situation? Audience? Role? Emotional state?
   • What is your argument culture? Discuss as a class how your culture influences the ways people generally argue. Do you belong to more than one culture? How does each influence you? Highlight differences from people who have noticed differences across cultures, spaces, and traditions. Do different generations argue differently? Discuss with your instructor, parents, and grandparents.

   • Keep an argument journal. Note the things that persuade you and how you respond to them. Record the thoughts in your mind during the persuasion process.

   • Peer analysis. Each student is assigned to be the personal “rhetorical analyst” of another student in class. This peer analyst must 1) observe their client’s speaking and writing throughout the class, 2) take notes on their rhetorical behaviors, and 3) advise the client on how to improve. The class can share key findings so that everyone can benefit from these “case studies.”

   • Argument of the day. The teacher puts one provocative “argument of the day” on the board. Each student must agree or disagree and provide reasons for doing so. Discuss or write responses.
·         Argument field reports. Once a week, each student writes three paragraphs: 1) retell the most interesting argument you observed that week, 2) state why it is interesting to you, and 3) tell what you can learn from this. This assignment can completed in a private journal but is most effective when shared with the class via online discussion board followed by class discussion.
Questions for Discussion or Writing

   • What first comes to mind when you think about arguing with a cat? What do you see?  How does it go? What feelings does it involve? Explain what this is like to you.
   • What has been your experience with cats? Think back and list all the cats with which you have interacted. This will help you get the most out of the book. With each cat, what arguments did you have? What agreements did you have? What relationships did you have? When did a cat persuade you? When did you skip persuasion and instead try using force?
   • Are you a “cat person,” “dog person,” or something else? How might this affect your experience reading this book?
   • If cats could speak and debate, what would they sound like? What would be their style? About what would they argue? What strategies would they use to persuade each other? Spend some time creatively contemplating these questions and share your answers. Which answers can teach humans something about communication?
   • What makes someone persuasive to you personally? What makes someone unpersuasive to you personally?
   • Persuasion is often thought of as deception and manipulation, but when is persuasion necessary for good and ethical outcomes?
   • Is rhetoric good or bad? Why?
   • Discuss the differences between arguing and fighting.
   • Discuss the differences between argument and persuasion.
   • What are some situations in which the truth is available but persuasion is still needed? When do we need more than just logic and facts?
   • What is the difference between rhetoric and deception?
   • At what age should people be taught the basics of rhetoric and argument? Why?
   • What does “responsible rhetoric” mean to you?
   • Who is your favorite rhetor (public speaker) in the room? Why? You might be surprised by the diversity of answers.
   • What are your favorite three words or phrases to use when arguing? Why?
   • About what are you unpersuadable?
   • What are some topics on which you want to be persuaded to change your mind?
   • Which parts of life are not affected by rhetoric? Does everything have a rhetorical aspect to it? Discuss several examples.
   • Discuss your classroom’s rhetorical atmosphere. What are its rules, patterns, expectations, and opportunities? In what ways is your classroom’s rhetorical atmosphere similar to or different from that of your other classes?
   • Discuss the rhetorical styles among your closest friends. How do you persuade each other? What are the rules, patterns, expectations, and blind spots? In what ways is your friend group’s rhetorical style similar to or different from that of other groups of friends? 

·         Book Theme: Heinrichs’ first sentence addresses him thinking of a fun, clear way to teach people the art of persuasion. He chose cats. What other theme could work? Choose several audiences who want to learn persuasion and select a few themes that would appeal to those audiences. (R8; W4; SL1; L3)
·         Other Animals: Now that you have an orientation to the book, list other animals besides cats with which you could “argue.” Discuss how persuasion might look with each animal. Which animals work best for teaching communication and why? (R10; W4; SL4; L3)
·         Cat Language: Jay argues that cats talk. In what ways do you agree and disagree? Why? Explain what “cat language” means to you, especially since cats do not speak the same verbal language that you speak. List the similarities and differences between human and cat communication. (R8; W2; SL2; L6)
Chapter 1 – Practice Agreeability: The Brilliant Purr
·         YouTube Examples: Find video examples of this chapter’s ideas applied to cats successfully and unsuccessfully. Explain specific scenarios where these lessons can apply to humans. (R2; W1; SL1; L4)
·         Agreeability Techniques: Heinrichs explains how to offer choices, be agreeable, and groom/flatter. Imitate the examples in the text by writing your own dialogue of someone persuading using all three of these techniques. (R8; W1; SL1; L3)
Chapter 2 – Pounce Like a Predator: The Art of Stalking
·         Personal Goals: What are some of your most common personal goals in the arguments you are currently having? What generally are your goals in most of your arguments? Which are specific to circumstance? (W1; SL1)
·         Mood, Mind, Action Exercise: Pick a short argument to make and write it three different ways—first just to change your audience’s mood, second to change audience members’ minds, and third to change their willingness to act. (W1, 2, 4, 5; L3)
·         Audience Effects: Select a speaking scenario and list the ways you can make your audience receptive. List the ways for making your audience attentive and for making them trusting. (R8; W1, 4; SL3; L3)
·         Timing and Kairos Indicators: For cats, what are some indicators that signal “the opportune moment”? Select specific scenarios and explain the indicators. Next, do the same exercise with humans. Compare and contrast the kairos indicators in cats and humans. (R2, 8; W1, 4; SL2; L3)
·         Kairos Elements: List all the elements of kairos in your current speaking circumstance (time of day, current events, relations among audience members, shared ideas, etc.). Consider what is special about today, your country, the room, the clothes, the weather, the mood, the shared knowledge, inside jokes, relationships, use of space, follies, coincidences, ambiguities, and distractions. To focus the exercise, pick a topic and then see what different kairos elements become relevant. (R8; W4; L3)
·         Kairos Connections: Make a list of topics and then practice connecting each topic to the best three elements from your kairos list above. (R8; W4; L3)
·         Current Events: Articulate the relationships between a given topic and a current event going on. (R8; W1, 4; L3)
·         Improvisational Kairos: The audience names a topic. Then you must articulate a point of connection between the topic and someone in the room or something this person said. The audience can help think of connections after you give it a try first. (R8; W4; L3)
·         Argue Media: Discuss how arguments are made through various media: audio only, video, in-person live, recorded to a mass audience, and so forth. Also consider how arguments are made through images, music, and other media. Bring in examples and explain. (R5, 7, 8; SL2)
Chapter 3 – Defuse Anger: The Toilet Argument
·         Blame Situations: List situations and topics that usually lead to blaming. What do people do to avoid having a conversation about blame? (R2; W1; SL1; L6)
·         Values Situations: List situations and topics that usually get people arguing about values. What do people do to avoid having their values called into question? (R2; W1; SL1; L6)
·         Choice Situations: List situations and topics that usually lead to offering choices. What about these situations and topics make people default to having conversations about choices? What causes some conversations to be about blame or values instead of about choice? (R2; W1; SL1; L6)
·         Examples: Find several example arguments that are focused on blame. Do the same for arguments focused on values and also for arguments about choice. (R2, 8)
·         Changing the Topic: Take an argument about one issue and turn it into an argument about another. For any subject matter, practice making arguments in each of the three topics. (R2, 8; W1, 5; L3)
·         Wrong Topics: Take an argument that is clearly about one topic (e.g., values) and counter-argue it strictly in terms of the other issue (e.g., blame). Practice observing how arguments become indirect and implicit when their topics mismatch. (R2, 8; W1, 7)
·         Control the Clock: Heinrichs connects blame with the past, values with the present, and action with the future. Come up with example arguments about other combinations, such as an argument about past values, future values, or past action. (W1, 7)
·         Grudges: Heinrichs suggests that we can learn from cats’ ability to live in the present and not hold grudges. Recall the grudges you have held. List ways you can move out of the past and ways to help others to do the same. (R2; W1; SL1)
Chapter 4 – Fit in with the Clan: The Box Maneuver
·         Cat Decorum: List the general rules of decorum for cats. What are the proper actions you should show them? (R2; W1; SL1; L3)
·         Human Decorum: List the general rules of decorum for humans. Regardless of the situation, what behaviors seem generally decorous? (R2; W1; SL1; L3)
·         Decorum Situations: Choose a specific argument scenario and write out its rules of decorum. Specifically, write out all the things the audience expects the ideal arguer to do in that scenario. Include both what should be done and what should be avoided. (R4; SL1; L3)
·         Common Decorum: Write decorum guidelines for your most common argument scenarios (e.g., speaking in class, e-mail, writing an essay). (R4; SL1; L3)
·         Breaches of Decorum: Select an argument scenario and list the ways you might violate decorum in it. Put your answers on a spectrum that ranges from “interesting” to “social suicide.” Other spectra you can use: workable to unworkable, creative to empty, meaningful to meaningless, useful to useless, attention-grabbing to attention-repealing, or any another spectrum that fits your scenario. (R4; W4; SL1; L3)
·         Emulation: Select someone who has a distinct style and make an argument by imitating them the best you can. (R2, 4, 5, 10; W1, 2, 4; SL3, 6; L3, 5)
·         Human Purring: Continue Heinrichs’ metaphor by listing ways that humans also purr. In what ways do humans signal ingratiation? Consider the eyes, hands, body, touch, space, timing, actions, and so forth. In what ways do humans purr without making a sound? (R8; W4; SL1; L3)
Chapter 5 – Earn Loyalty: The Virtuous Scratch
·         3C Species: List ways cats can show each: Caring, Craft, and Cause (henceforth “3C”). Do the same for humans. Compare and contrast the two lists. (R2; W2; SL1; L3)
·         3C Errors: List ways cats and humans may attempt to show 3C but fail. Give examples of mismatched displays of 3C. (R2; W2; SL4; L3)
·         3C Example: Write out an interaction between a human and a cat that illustrates 3C. (R2; W4; SL4; L3)
·         3C Comparison: Make an argument answering the question: are humans or cats easier to establish your ethos with? Find someone who disagrees and compare arguments. (R2; W4, 6; SL4; L3)
·         Ethos (Analysis): Choose an op-ed piece or an argument about opinion and mark every instance of ethos. (R8; L4)
·         Ethos (Application): Write a short argument using as much ethos as you can. Next, you or someone else in the class should go through the argument, marking each instance of ethos. (R8; W1, 8, 9)
·         Who Is Your Ethos Role Model?: Why did you pick this person? What do they do to establish their ethos? How do they create their character effectively through their language and argument? Why is this person’s ethos effective for their particular audience and situation? (R8; W1; SL1, 3)

   • Ethos Check-Up: What is your ethos? Before you speak, how do people generally perceive you? As you speak, what assumptions do you think people make about you? What do people’s perceptions about you help you to do and hinder you from doing? (W1)
   • Ethos Games: Select something (it can be almost anything) and tell us what it conveys about someone and how it tells us that. This can be clothes, a bedroom, a written essay, contents in a backpack, a car interior, music playlists, an Internet browsing history, and so on. (R2, 4, 5, 7, 8; W1; SL1)
·         Ethos Elements: Select a speaking scenario and list the ways you can display each “C” in Heinrichs’ 3C. (R8; W1, 4; SL3; L3)
·         Author’s Ethos: What is Heinrichs’ ethos to you? What specifically did he do to get you to think that way about him? (R4, 8; W8; SL3; L4)
Chapter 6 – Argue Logically: The Deductive Mousetrap
·         Find Enthymemes: Find enthymemes from different sources and explain how each enthymeme works. Consider searching for “memes” online, which often have enthymemes. Explain each enthymeme’s unsaid assumption. How are they being used to rhetorical advantage? (W1, 8, 9)
·         Make Enthymemes: Practice writing your own enthymemes. Use only simple declarative sentences such as “He’s smiling. He’s happy.” Then try using actions and events, as Heinrichs does in his examples, such as “[it starts to rain outside] we are gonna have a boring day.” Some examples using events and actions: a doorbell rings, a new car engine sound, a stock market crash, a wink without words, a stranger says “I love you.” (R2, 4, 5, 8; W1; SL1; L3, 6)
·         Take One Fact and Try Connecting It to Different Beliefs: Pick a scenario and play with different ways to connect one fact to different beliefs as well as one belief to different facts. (R2; W4; SL4; L3)
Chapter 7 – Avoid Manipulation: The Magical Bookshelf
·         “What Do You Mean By?”: Have someone stand in front of the group and say a one-sentence argument that seems obvious (e.g., the sky is blue). Subject the argument to the test of asking, “What do you mean by . . .” (e.g. what do you mean by sky?). The person responds and is then asked, “What do you mean by . . .” again. Keep doing this. How do the argument, speaker, and conversation transform after asking this question? (R2, 8, 10)
·         Fallacy Making: Write three clear and enjoyable examples of each fallacy. The best way to catch fallacies is first to create them yourself. (W1, 8, 9)
·         Fallacy Catching: Search the Internet, political discourse, and advertisements for examples of fallacies, and identify which ones they make. Fallacies are everywhere.  Present your findings and have the group guess the fallacy. (R2, 4, 8, 10; W8, 9; SL3; L6)
·         Find Façade Words: Find them in the news, in political language, or elsewhere. Present your findings and have the group guess the façade words. (R4; W2; SL1; L3)
·         Make Sentences Using Façade Words: Try to have a conversation using them. What effects do façade words have on the conversation? (R2; W4, 6; SL4, 6; L3, 4, 5, 6)
·         Language Techniques: Practice the language techniques Heinrichs discusses. Find examples and make your own sentences using metaphor, synecdoche, fallacies, and tautology. Create your own examples of each to show you understand and can illustrate each concept. Optional: State the argument scenario and audience for which each example trope/figure works. Also find an example of someone doing it in your life, in a text, or in a recording. (R4; W2, 4; SL3; L3, 4, 5, 6)
Chapter 8 – Talk with Your Body: The Eye Intrigue
·         Posture: Practice Heinrichs’ instructions for standing and sitting. Have a competition to determine who can do them best. Discuss what makes the best one the best. (R2, 7; W6; SL5; L3)
·         Body Language Guessing Game: Act out one or two body movements without using any language. The group interprets the body language. Share and discuss all the perspectives, showing the similarities and variations in interpreting body language. (R2, 7; W6; SL5; L3, 4, 5)
·         Team Body: One person talks while another person simultaneously acts out the corresponding body language. This can be done with one person standing next to or behind the other person. (R2, 7; W6; SL5; L3, 4, 5)
Chapter 9 – Make Them Heed: The Lure and the Ramp
·         Your Lures and Ramps: List the lures and ramps that have been used on you throughout your life. Which lures and ramps are occurring upon you right now? (R2; W2; SL1; L3)
·         Lure and Ramp Practice: Pick a situation and goal. List the lures and ramps that might help achieve the goal in that situation. Try them out by writing or acting them out through a dialogue. (R2; W4; SL4; L3)
Chapter 10 – Follow the Steps: The Cat Persuasion Checklist
·         Steps Reminder: Come up with an acronym or mnemonic to help you remember each step on the checklist. (R2; W1; SL1; L3)
·         The Big 5: Find examples of arguments (especially from your cat videos or topics bank listed in the pre-reading activities section) and identify the ways they demonstrate goals, ethos, mood, logic, and kairos. (R2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10; W1; SL1; L3)
·         Argument Plan: Pick a scenario and make an argument plan that addresses each of Heinrichs’ steps. (R2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10; W1, 7; SL1, 6; L3)
·         Dialogue Examples: Write a dialogue of an argument wherein one arguer demonstrates each step along the way. (R2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10; W1, 4, 7; SL1, 6; L3, 4, 5, 6)
·         Prioritize: Go through these tools and highlight your favorites. Prioritize the top three that you need to start using when you write and speak. Make a separate list of the top three tools you need to better analyze arguments. (R2; W1; SL1; L3)
·         Sixty-Second Pitches: Sell an object to a specific group of humans (e.g., paper clips to nuns) and cats (e.g., paper clips to cats). Pretend you are a CEO pitching your product to these two demographics. Your pitch must be sixty seconds. (W1, 2, 4, 7; SL3, 4, 6; L3, 5)
·         Additional Argument Equipment: Ask your students what exercises, games, or activities they think would help their rhetorical skills. Submit your ideas to so that educators can share. (R2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10; W1, 4, 7; SL1, 6; L3, 4, 5, 6)
Epilogue – Cats of Character
·         Add a Cat: Continue in the style of this chapter by adding more paragraphs to Heinrichs’ list. Write character descriptions for the cats you know best. (R2; W1, 4; SL4; L3, 5)
·         Add a Human: Write a character description for a human that could fit in this chapter. (R2; W1, 4; SL4; L3, 5)
·         Add Yourself: Fitting into this chapter, write an entry about yourself from the point of view of someone else. Also write an entry about yourself from the point of view of the cat you know best. (R2; W1, 4; SL4; L3, 5)
·         Magic Cats: Write an additional paragraph to this epilogue that invents your perfect cat to add to Heinrichs’ list. What would your entry be? (R2; W1, 4; SL4; L3, 5)
Synthesis Activities for Putting Chapters Together

   • Chapter Epigraphs: Each chapter begins with a quotation on a rhetorical theme. Go through these again and select your favorite one. Write out your explanation (or argument) of what this quotation means to you now. Do not summarize the chapter; rather, explain how the quote applies to you personally. (R8; W1)
·         Student Examples: Find a short video online to show to the class and explain what it teaches about rhetoric that is different from what has been taught so far. Also, ask the class one good discussion question about it. (R7, 10; SL1, 2)

   • Argue with Jay Heinrichs: Find a part of the book you disagree with and explain why. What exactly do you disagree with? What would you write in its place? Also, what is important to you about argument, rhetoric, and persuasion that was not mentioned in the book? Let us know at (W1; SL3)
·         Play Apples to Apples: Play the popular card game, but have each player make their argument to the judge for each round. (SL4; L3)

   • 99–1 Arguments: Argue for something “crazy” that ninety-nine percent of people would disagree with and only one percent would agree with (e.g., it’s better to never brush your teeth ever again). Be creative and apply the book’s concepts. (W1, SL4)
   • Argue for Your Own Homework: Have your class members argue for how they should demonstrate their mastery of this book’s concepts. Each student writes a short proposal arguing what they will do to prove they learned the material. This can be done as individuals proposing their own project or as a group activity. Students can evaluate each other’s proposals to make the arguments stronger. (W1, 4)
·         Sell Rhetoric Itself: Apply concepts from the book to an exercise in selling rhetoric itself to school administrators. Convince them to make a rhetoric course mandatory for students. Reference at least one example of rhetoric’s benefits to you personally. (W1, 4 8; SL4)

   • Class Rankings: Select a criterion to measure your peers (e.g., applied course concepts the most, the most improved, or the most persuasive) and rank each person in order of who fulfilled that criterion from the most to the least. (R8; W1; SL3)
For more exercises and activities, see Appendix I. Argument Lab in Jay Heinrichs’ Thank You for Arguing.
Common Core State Standards Referenced Above
Reading (R)
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Writing (W)
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking and Listening (SL)
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Language (L)
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

   • ArgueLab,, is the official web companion to Thank You for Arguing, and includes videos, quizzes, and updates from the author. Teachers can share their activities and lesson plans with each other.
   • American Rhetoric,, is an extensive bank of speeches useful for example and analysis.
   • Silva Rhetoricae,, and Literary Devices,, are extensive lists of rhetorical terms’ explanations and examples.
   • The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University,, has many resources, on topics from rhetoric to research, to assist writers and teachers.
   • Your Logical Fallacy Is,, allows you to digitally tell people what fallacy they just used. Nineteen languages available.
   • Existential Comics has two short and enjoyable “Adventures of Fallacy Man,” and
   • Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data,, is a college course available online dedicated to equipping people to “call bullshit” on faulty science-based arguments.
   • Figures of Speech,, is Jay Heinrichs’ blog, offering short examples and analyses of rhetoric good for classes and practice.

Other Works of Interest
Thank You for Arguing, Third Edition: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs
Workbooks of Rhetorical Concepts and Exercises
   • Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student by Edward P. J. Corbett and Robert Connors
   • Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students by Sharon Crowley and Debra Hawhee
   • Composition in the Classical Tradition by Frank J. D’Angelo
   • The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph; edited by Marguerite McGlinn
   • Rhetorical Devices: A Handbook and Activities for Student Writers by Brendan McGuigan; edited by Douglas Grudzina and Paul Moliken

Textbooks for Argumentative Writing
   • “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, with Readings by Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst
   • Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon
   • Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings by John D. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson

Argumentation Theory and Practice
   • An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi; illustrations by Alejandro Giraldo
   • A Workbook for Arguments: A Complete Course in Critical Thinking by David R. Morrow and Anthony Weston
   • Elements of Argument: A Text and Reader by Annette Rottenberg and Donna Winchell
   • A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett Student Handbooks) by Anthony Weston

Rhetorical Theory and History
   • The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present edited by Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg
   • Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times to the Information Age edited by Theresa Jarnagin Enos
   • Introduction to Rhetorical Theory by Gerald A. Hauser
   • The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction by James A. Herrick
   • Encyclopedia of Rhetoric edited by Thomas O. Sloane

About This Guide’s Writer

DAVID LANDES, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at the American University of Beirut, and has taught courses on rhetoric, media, communication, speaking, and writing. He coauthored the Argument Lab section of Thank You for Arguing and contributes to its supplemental website, As a consultant, he helped teach humanities courses at Stanford and MIT and has given over forty invited talks. He can be reached for inquires at

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