Author, artist, and T&W writer-in-residence Sarah Porter uses a seventh-grade poetry class to teach common logical fallacies. After reading a list of different fallacies, the class becomes better acquainted with them by writing “lie Poems.” This lesson plan offers a fun, no-stress way to gain skills these students can employ throughout their academic careers.
Grade(s) taught: 7th
Genre(s) taught: Poetry, argumentative writing
Download: Lie Poem Lesson Plan
Common Core State Standards: (Refer to the ELA Standards > History/Social Studies > Grades 6–8 and ELA Standards > Writing > Grade 7)
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Introduce claim(s), acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
- How do people try to “prove” their point when the evidence is against them?
- Do people employ some of these tactics in daily life, perhaps to manipulate others?
- If someone frequently employs invalid logic, is it a good idea to examine their motives?
- If you catch yourself using invalid logic, what should you do to improve your argument?
Pass out a handout listing common logical fallacies with examples. You can download a sample handout here.
Discuss the various logical fallacies and solicit additional examples from the class; e.g. the “birther” hysteria as an example of an ad hominem attack against President Obama. With input from students, write absurd lies on the board and then ask students to come up with invalid justifications for their lies and identify the logical fallacy employed.
Translate this exercise into independent writing. Have the students independently write “lie poems” in which they make an absurd claim and use at least three different types of fallacies to prove their lies. If there is time, students can share with each other and guess what type of fallacy their partners used.
A volunteer makes an absurd statement, and the class goes in a circle alternately supporting and contradicting the statement with invalid arguments.
Logical fallacies handout
Vocabulary: Fallacy, logic, red herring, ad hominem, straw man, false analogy, false dilemma, non sequitur
Multi-Modal Approaches to Learning:
This lesson appeals to logical learners, with its clear forms and definitions; interpersonal learners, as the group creates examples together; and linguistic learners, as they verbally address new definitions, concepts, and examples.