Convince Me

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This is a technique that I use as a formative assessment of students’ understanding of a topic. I take an obviously “wrong” stance, and the students’ job is to change my mind using solid claims backed by evidence.


In this video, I am using the “Convince Me” technique to assess students’ comfort with the idea of assumption size as a factor in evidence strength. I used the “extraterrestrial dollhouse” scenario as an exaggerated example of a huge size of assumption to introduce the concept. After the recorded video, students “convinced” me that my evidence wasn’t very strong by telling me all of the many pieces of the story I had to assume in order for it to be true. They discussed what additional evidence I could find to shrink my assumption size (giant footprints, a UFO or a giant babydoll, for example). They then participated in a size of assumption card sorting activity to solidify their understanding. These activities scaffolded their claims about the “History Mystery” they had been investigating all day: what were humans doing in this ecosystem 100 years ago? By starting with the “Convince Me” introduction to size of assumption, the students were able to make more feasible evidence-based claims.


This technique could also work well as scaffolding for student-led discussions or debates. The students practice developing strong arguments, but the social and emotional risk is low because the topic is light and they are debating against a teacher instead of each other.