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Argument Writing Grade Ladder - Ladders, Pyramids and Cherries

The grade ladders have been useful in targeting top level skills and applying them in our work. 

This is a particularly effective way at building your grade because it gives you a hierarchy. If you think of the ladder as a pyramid (too many metaphors?) then you will find most of Rung 1 in your work with examples of higher level skills as you go through to Rung 5  where you will be showing judicious (well judged) examples of top level devices, sentences, punctuation, paragraphs and vocabulary (the cherry on the top of the cake if you will- somebody stop me with these metaphors!).

Overall - it is a good way to plan and benchmark your work. Make sure you try to use examples of as much the skills as possible (as long as they make sense). Happy preparation and enjoy.

If you are interested - you can test your knowledge of each rung by looking at my take on the Scottish Referendum below. Post the quotations and the features they contain in the comments section.

Paragraphs
Rung
The content of paragraphs is shaped for effect exploring and returning to arguments.
5
Paragraphs are linked cohesively by discourse markers
4
Paragraphs contain a range of facts and opinions.
3
Paragraphs focus on one piece of information with a clear topic sentence
2
Work is Paragraphed
1

Sentences
Rung
Sentence lengths are crafted for effect with use of high level structural devices such as anaphora and parison.
5
Sentences include adverbial clauses prepositions and noun phrases.
4
Sentences balance interrogative, exclamatory, declarative and imperative to convey an argument.
3
Sentences are mostly complex.
2
Sentences contain subject, finite verb and object.
1

Devices
Rung
Work shows evidence of choice of devices for specific effect. (Could include Irony or Satire)
5
Work includes Anecdotes, Hyperbole and Triadic Structure.
4
Work includes Persuasive Devices Rhetorical Questions, Personal Pronouns)
3
Work is balanced with positive and negative metaphors to show opinions.
2
Work use Adjectives and Adverbs.
1

Vocabulary
Rung
Judicious use of complex Negative and Positive Language show balance but hints at a preference.
5
Highly Complex language used accurately and where appropriate throughout.
4
Vocabulary includes subordinators to show balance and language of the expert.
3
Vocabulary clearly shows point of view.
2
Every day vocabulary is used accurately (including Spelling)
1

Punctuation
Rung
Accurate use of the full range of punctuation including more complex punctuation used for effect. (Semi-colon and Colon)
5
Accurate use of punctuation with ellipsis, dashes and brackets used for effect.
4
Accurate use of punctuation with question marks and exclamation marks used for effect.
3
Accurate use of simple punctuation including commas.
2
Accurate use of Capital Letters and full stops.
1



Should Scotland become an Independent Country?

After a well fought referendum campaign from both sides of the debate, the one thing that is clear is that the question of Scottish independence is yet to be fully answered. On one side we have the YES campaign who appeal to the heart with arguments of geographical autonomy, nationalism and patriotism; the NO campaign appeal to the head with arguments of history, family and finance. Both sides argued with passion that the fate of a nation lay together or apart; as a whole or fraction; united or disunited. Now that the dust has settled, are we any closer to the right answer?

The crux of the argument from the unionists was that Scotland did not have the monetary power to go it alone. No one wants to see five million people look hungrily over the border as the welfare state, pensions and the NHS fell apart around it. It was fundamental that they proved that Scotland would be worse off without the U.K. The irony here is that in proving that Scotland needed the support of the United Kingdom, the NO campaign may have sparked the independence debate in England. An overlooked but undoubtedly important idea within the debate was would the rest of Great Britain have been worse off without Scotland?

Here is where the YES campaign fought. They attempted to prove that Scotland would be a wealthy utopia creating a fair and equal society where everyone prospered. Reaching out to the all corners of Scotland, they created a narrative of prosperity where people would be better off each year to the same amount of money as the NO campaign said they would lose: in the ‘People’s Republic of Scotland’ no one would go without and everyone would be equal. It was a view of a society you should believe in. It was a view of a society you could believe in and they persuaded 45% of the voters that it was a model of society you can achieve.

However, the mudslinging of modern politics sullied the views put forward by both sides. Although the NO campaign highlighted that Scotland may not be able to afford a state of the art NHS and crumbling hospitals would be common place, the Conservative and Labour parties had presided over a dismantling of the NHS that left many hospitals running at huge losses. While the YES campaign pointed out appalling child poverty in areas of Scotland, they neglected to highlight they’ve had the devolved power to deal with this since 2007.

As the referendum drew closer, the back and forth of claim and counter claim became tedious leading the majority of voters to take to finding the facts and discussing these in the pubs, clubs and social networks. The negativity of the NO campaign (can a NO campaign be anything but negative?) put me and many voters off. Don’t tell me what I will lose if I vote no, tell me what I will gain!

In the end, I believed that Scotland could cope alone and should have the ambition to do so. I wanted a society that was shaped by those with the nation’s interests at their heart. I wanted a society that was driven to innovate rather than complacently relying on others and I wanted a new nation that my daughter could shape rather than become a cog in an out-dated and under-reformed elitist institution. For me, it was simple: I wanted a nation that looked after everyone and only the YES campaign gave me that option. Scotland should be an independent country.
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