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Believing and Doubting
Essential Characteristics:   Pages:
Primary Mode Collaborative 195-198
Activity Focus Reading, Discussing
Duration of Activity Single Session
Online Transferability High
Description and Purpose

This activity helps students develop dialogical thinking, the active disposition to seek views different from their own and to construct arguments when informed proponents of opposing points of view are not available. It helps students to see that scholarly articles and other assigned readings are voices in a conversation that they need to join. Complex and challenging texts will begin to make sense when students see their responsibility to participate actively as they read, imagining and considering alternative points of view as they evaluate an author's thesis, reasons, and evidence.
For the 'believing' portion of 'Believing and Doubting', students are asked to read a text empathetically, making a conscious effort to understand and appreciate the author's perspective and values. They make a list of reasons and arguments that support the author's viewpoint and use this list as the basis for a small-group discussion. In the 'doubting' portion of the activity, students reread the text and look for its weaknesses – making a new list as they raise objections and resist being taken in by the text's rhetorical force. The list they generate is used for an additional small-group discussion.

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