The Art of Argument

The Poverty Cycle: Causes and Solutions

 7th Grade Literacy

Art Direction and design for Borgen Project “Global Poverty” infographic.
Art Direction and design for Borgen Project “Global Poverty” infographic.


In this unit, the students learned how to write a persuasive argument while exploring the issue of global poverty.  Students participated in one-to-one (face off debates) and whole class debates to understand the steps of presenting an effective argument and how to effectively weigh counter arguments.  Moreover, students explored the causes of and solutions for the poverty cycle (from a global perspective) through various mediums such as web articles, biographical stories and online videos.   The unit goal was for students to be able to identify the differences, but also the interconnections between opportunity and choice as they apply to the poverty cycle, and in turn form their own argument about the causes of, and possible solutions to global poverty.


Many young adults desire to find a way to make a difference in this world but at the same time, many feel powerless.  They feel unable to control a great deal that is happening in their lives during this age of transformation and change (to both their bodies and emotions) and, as such, do not understand how they might bring forth or implement change in the world.  Perhaps the reason that adolescents love Harry Potter to the degree that they do, is because Harry shows that ordinary kids can have an extraordinary influence, and that is truly the aim of this unit.  Once students are able to understand different causes of poverty and learn about possible solutions to it, the aim is that they will realize that as individuals, they can affect change in others’ lives, even if only in a small way.

Furthermore, in this unit, students will learn (through engaging in oral debates and writing)how to think more logically, how to call upon evidence to support their ideas, the importance of addressing counter arguments and how to write effective arguments. Through the art of argument, students will learn how to think critically about important social issues, begin to foster their own voice on these issues, and learn how to express them in a respectful way which also considers the value in other viewpoints.

Unit Goals and Essential Questions

  • What factors can lead to poverty and what are possible solutions to the poverty cycle?
  • What does poverty look like from a global perspective (how does it differ from one country to the next)?
  • What are effective techniques of persuasive writing and speaking?


This unit is two-fold, covering both the art of argumentative writing and the poverty cycle.  Students will learn how to effectively express an argument verbally, and in writing, through the lens of the poverty cycle. As a class, we will brainstorm different causes of, and solutions to the poverty cycle (education, employment, access to clean water, economic circumstances, etc).  Students will be provided resources (stories, news articles and videos) that we will analyze, discuss and debate about in class. They will also conduct their own research on issues related to the poverty cycle.  Furthermore, students will learn the elements of effective essay writing.  Key vocabulary includes: poverty, poverty cycle, poverty line, basic needs, caucus, rebuttal, evidence, claim, material possessions, oppressive, economic isolation, hardship, thrive, empower, perpetuate, underemployment, job market, malnutrition, child slavery, and debt.

Link to Lesson Plans Here