Activity: What’s Your Reason?

Posted by: This lesson plan, created by David Shapiro, is part of a series of lesson plans in Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools, by Jana Mohr Lone and Michael D. Burroughs (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).
Designed for: Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School
Topics Covered: Logic and reasoning; epistemology
Estimated Time Necessary: 40 minutes to an hour, depending on ages of the students
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Learning Objectives

  • To learn how to articulate the reasons students have for their views -
  • To evaluate what constitutes good reasons for believing something -

Tool Text

This game involves students writing down claims supported by reasons and then guessing each others’ claims after listening only to the reasons.

 

  • Hand out four note cards (or note-card sized pieces of paper) to each student. Ask them to write down, on each of the four cards, one claim they believe in, for a total of four. At least one of these should be a normative claim (involving something people should or should not do), and at least one of them should be a false claim. Asking students to include a claim that’s false reinforces the idea that we also have reasons for believing things that are not true.
  • Once they’ve written down the claims, give them 10-15 minutes to write down, on the other side of the paper, three reasons they have for believing the claims to be true — or false as the case may be. (Writing down reasons for the false claim can be quite challenging for some students, who say things like, “How can I have reasons for it if it’s not true? This can lead to some interesting discussions about how we can — or if we can — have knowledge that something is false.) They can appeal to whatever outside sources of information they want to during this time.
  • Now divide the students into two teams.
  • After the teams have formed, collect their index cards, making sure to keep the cards from both teams separate.
  • The exercise now proceeds sort of like a game of charades. The goal is for students to be able to guess what the claim is from the reason(s) cited for believing it.
  • Starting with Team One, pick the first student in line or ask the entire team to collaborate. Start by reading one of the three reasons from one of the cards written by the other team.
  • If the team or student can guess the claim from the first reason, that team gets 3 points. From the first and second reasons, 2 points, from all three reasons, 1 point.
  • Sometimes disagreements arise about whether a reason offered for a claim is a good one. This is great – do encourage discussion about this!

 

 

 

This lesson plan, created by David Shapiro, is part of a series of lesson plans in Philosophy in Education: Questioning and Dialogue in Schools, by Jana Mohr Lone and Michael D. Burroughs (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

Activity: What’s Your Reason?

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