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Using Evidence and Analysis
Chapter 2 reviews the importance of using evidence (such as facts, statistics, and examples) and
of analyzing or discussing evidence. The discussions and exercises, including the excerpts from
film reviews and from Tom Vanderbilt’s book Traffic, as well as the “Write Back” that asks
students to compose their own film review, are meant to demonstrate to students that we use
evidence and analysis in many different situations and they may already be very adept at
providing reasons and discussions to back up their opinions.
Suggestions for Teaching
• Even before assigning the exercises in the chapter, the instructor might choose to conduct
an informal class discussion based on the concept that we regularly back up our opinions
with evidence. Emphasize to students that it is not enough to simply take a position; they
must also provide reasons for their positions. Then, ask students one or more of the
o Describe the last movie you saw. Was it good? Would you recommend it? Why or
o Choose a popular sports player. (Ex. Lebron James). Is this player under- or
overrated? Does the player earn his or her paycheck? Why or why not? Provide
examples of the player’s successes or failures.
o Is the college you are attending a good school? Would you recommend it to a
friend? Why or why not?
• The following articles in the “Wide Awake to Reading” section of the textbook may be
assigned to reinforce the importance of effective use of evidence:
o Malcolm Gladwell, “Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted”
o Mark Bauerlein, from The Dumbest Generation
o The Christian Science Monitor, “Why Earth Day Needs a Regreening”
Suggestions for Identifying Others’ Analytical Work: Write Back
The following is an example of a strong response to this chapter’s Write back exercise.
Rocky—the first one—is not only an exciting sports movie and a compelling drama, but it
is also realistic. An example of the film’s realism is the way it ends: although many
people who haven’t seen the film assume that Rocky is victorious, the truth is that Rocky
loses the big fight.
Unlike the subsequent Rocky movies, which are increasingly unrealistic, the first one
shows that you can work hard, but you still don’t always win. This is not a traditional
Hollywood ending. In addition, Rocky’s loss is compelling in that the message of the
movie is that going the distance—working your hardest, trying really hard even when the
odds are against you—is the true accomplishment. The movie says that giving it your
best shot, even if you don’t win, is the most honorable thing.
The above answer provides an example and a discussion of that example, to substantiate the
claim that Rocky is a realistic and compelling film.
Answers to Follow-up Exercises
Answers to each of these exercises will surely vary.
FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITY: ANALYZING THE DOLLAR BILL
PART I: MAKE A LIST
There are many symbols on the dollar bill; students’ lists of the elements of the dollar bill might
The picture of George Washington
“In God We Trust”
“The United States of America”
“Federal Reserve Note”
Secretary of the Treasury’s signature
“Novus Ordo Seclorum”
PART II: READ ANOTHER STUDENT’S ANALYSIS
Answers will vary.
PART III: WRITE BACK
1. Answers will vary.
2. Answers will vary.
3. Answers will vary, however, some websites that students might find helpful include:
“Symbols on American Money” at Philadelphia.org, “State Symbols USA” at
statesymbolsusa.org, and “The Face of U.S. Currency” at minneapolisfed.org. You may also
warn students that there are numerous websites that use the symbols on the dollar bill as
evidencing various conspiracy theories. While these are perhaps less useful for this
assignment, some of these sites are interesting and might be used in class discussions. For
example, you might view these sites together in class and evaluate their use of evidence and