Confronting Bias / Rhetorical Listening (Lauren Poet)

Objective: After a quiz activity and guided discussion about recognizing various types of bias and representation, students will be prepared to collaborate in small groups to successfully compose a short “breaking news” report of a very familiar story from a very unfamiliar perspective, fairly and respectfully, having gained an enhanced lens through which to explore unfamiliar perspectives in a written argument.   

Teacher Preparation:

  • Print out the Quiz
  • Print out the Handout

Student Preparation:


Preparation for Learning: (6 minutes)

Quiz: Students are given the quiz (“Identifying Bias & Unethical Representation”) and told they have 5 minutes to complete it. When time is up, assure students it will not be graded, & it was meant to be difficult.

Discussion (10 minutes)

  • Do you have biases? What kinds? How do you know? Are biases always bad or unfair? Does it depend? What does audience have to do with these kinds of judgments?  What can we do to acknowledge our biases?
  • Direct discussion to the quiz questions. Briefly explore each example, identifying where students found problems. A scribe may be appointed to list the types of biases or unethical representations on the board: gender, race, cultural stereotype/assumption, misinformation, un-parallel descriptors, etc.

DIRECT LEARNING: (2 minutes)

  • Emphasize that identifying biases and unethical portrayals in other people’s writing is much easier than avoiding it in our own—and it’s especially hard when the subject is one we feel strongly about.
  • The ability to sincerely and appropriately acknowledge another’s perspective is central to a successful relationship with your reader (and to every other relationship you will ever have.)
  • You’re not a bad person

Applied Learning: (15 minutes)  

  • Tell students to gather into groups of 3.
  • Distribute Collaborative Writing: Ambush in Jerusalem
  • Review the task description together.
  • Tell each group to appoint a scribe and to get started.

Reinforce Learning: (10 minutes)

  • Invite each group to take a turn reading their story out loud and offering a reflective comment on the process. (one minute per group)
  • Some questions and discussion ideas to consider drawing out:  
  • Can you think of someone who investigators might have named as a “person of interest”? (Would Zoram’s disappearance overnight seem suspicious?)
  • See the text box on the Ambush in Jerusalem handout. What does an exercise in compassion have to do with making you a stronger and more persuasive writer?

Applied Learning: (10 minutes)

  • Apply what you’ve learned toward the counterargument in your own paper.  Have you treated your opposing argument fairly? Work on making your counterargument more fair to your opposing argument.