Evidence, Argument, Purpose


  • Students will recognize and analyze the uses and types of evidence in argument.
  • Students will define and evaluate the affect of bullying in young adulthood.

In order to enhance our skills at recognizing evidence within an argument, we are going to analyze the documentary Bully. Each day you will be given a specific set of notes to maintain throughout the viewing process. You will use these notes to journal and reflect upon the argument of the documentary.

These notes will be created in a Google document, so you will have your computer on during the documentary; however, you are not allowed to have any other documents or Internet sites open during this time. If you are caught with some open, your computer privileges will be revoked for the remainder of the documentary and you will need to maintain handwritten notes.

PART 1: Personal Narrative and Anecdote

Our first set of notes will focus on the evidence the documentary produces in support of the argument: bullying is a social issue in which aggressors target those viewed as different.

  1. Describe the students the documentary introduces. Briefly describe their stories.
  2. What are the different types of bullying these student encounter?
  3. Why are some young adults more vulnerable to bullying? Why do they become targets?
  4. Who are the bullies? How do they get away with the bullying? How can bullies be stopped? What are the consequences?
  5. What impact does bullying have on the family and friends of people who are bullied?

PART 2: Persuasion

Evidences and Purposes

Every piece of writing constructed has a a specific purpose. The format of the writing is determined based on that purpose. In order to determine the purpose of a text, you must answer the following questions:

  • What is the argument of the text?
  • What evidence is used to support the argument/opinion?
  • Who is the audience?

After you have determined the answers to these questions, you can begin to analyze how the writer presents these ideas. These elements will vary based on the type of text. Together we will analyze the different types of argument listed below. We will analyze the elements utilized in the text and we will determine the texts’ purpose. 

Informational: Informational texts increase the reader’s knowledge of the topic. Think definition. 

Text: Bullying DefinitionStopBullying.gov

Opinion: Known as op-ed pieces in the media, is a piece of media typically found in magazines or newspapers. It is a piece of writing, constructed by a columnist, in which they state their opinion about a relevant topic or issue in society.

Then with your partner, you will find different types of argument about your topic.

Text: Fighting Back Against Bullies, James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Persuasive: Persuasive writing attempts to coarse the reader to perform a certain action or view the topic in the same way as the writer using appeals. An appeal is a device used in nonfiction to persuade you as the audience to feel and react in a specific way. There are three different types of appeals. This persuasion occurs using specific appeals: ethos, pathos, logos. Although persuasive pieces can utilize all three appeals, the tone of the piece usually has one dominate appeal.

Ethos (appeal to character): this is when the filmmaker (or writer) attempts to present an authoritative or credible self-image to convince the audience of the argument.

Pathos (appeal to emotion): this is when the filmmaker (or writer) attempts to make the audience feel a certain way, emotionally, in order to make the argument more believable.

Examples: The personal narratives and anecdotes of the bully victims in the Bully documentary.

Logos (appeal to logic): this is when the filmmaker (or writer) uses facts, evidence, statistics, graphs, basically any type of reason to make the audience believe their audience.

Fiction: Fictional texts can create arguments or messages that are conveyed to the reader through literary elements such as characterization, dialogue, conflict/plot, theme, etc.

Text: The SwanRoald Dahl


  1. Identify a specific aspect of your topic that interests you – perhaps a challenge related to your topic or a question that you have about it.
  2. Use the Internet to search for opinions related to your topic. Your goal is to find an opinion that is informed, thoughtful, and engaging. Read a few of them before you settle on just one. You are not limited to the first ten sights that come up in your search. Some sites will be blocked, but there are still some high quality opinions out there. Try using some of Google’s search tips to find quality opinions. [The opinion I chose to read about bullying came from a search that looked like this: opinion:bullying +teen +teachers ]
  3. Once you’ve found an opinion to read, open a Word document.
    1. Use the formal paper format to set up your document.
    2. Copy and Paste the URL of your opinion at the top of the page. Also write the title of the piece and the author’s name.
    3. Answer the following questions about the opinion you chose:
      1. What is the writer’s opinion or message that s/he wants to share with readers?
      2. What can you tell about the writer as a person? What more do you want to know about the writer in order to better understand the opinion?
      3. What insights and views does this writer have to offer your group’s discussion about your topic?
      4. What characteristics of an Op-Ed are present in the piece of writing? [Hint: This refers to things ‘inside the triangle.’]
      5. How is reading this opinion piece different than reading the news article you looked at with your group last week? What do you get from this writer that you didn’t get from the news reporter?
      6. How does your own opinion on the issue brought up in your opinion piece align with or diverge from the writer’s opinion?