Minimum Wage in the U.S.






Your class has selected to debate on the topic of Federal Minimum Wage. By the end of this unit you will engage in small group debates with your teams on whether the U.S. Government should adopt a Federal Minimum Wage. In your teams you will go through the Steps of the Public Policy Analyst, (PPA cycle) to guide you. 

It’s Complicated...

“Don't raise your voice, improve your argument."― Desmond Tutu


There are so many critical issues we have yet to discuss, but so little time to learn about them all.  So, for the next few weeks, we will select an “issue of the week” that will be under investigation, split into two teams, research the issue extensively, and then hold an organized, structured debate on the matter on Friday.


The key to success goes beyond simply understanding the issue and airing your personal feelings about said issue.  Instead, success will be determined by how well you can use the actual facts, data and available information based on reliable resources (ACCURACY MATTERS) and analyze them to persuade the audience that your side of the argument is the correct one.  You will be ASSIGNED a side of the argument and must argue from that standpoint, even if you personally disagree with it. 


To prepare for the debates, you will be required to conduct independent research (and cite your sources), but you will also have to work collaboratively with your team to structure your arguments in the most effective way possible.  In the end, when properly orchestrated, the debates will help you uncover the complexity and nuance of issues that might on the surface seem quite simple and straightforward.


You will receive both an individual grade based on your contributions to your group’s research collection as well as a group grade which will depend on the preparation and structuring of your debate arguments.  How you do that will be up to you and your team.  Do you each set out on an independent fact-finding mission?  Do you look at case studies of places that have already tried the policy proposals at hand?  Do you work with a teammate on a particular aspect of the issue at hand?  It’s up to you!


Additionally, debates can take on many forms and follow different protocols.  As we get closer to the actual debate, we will explore our options and democratically vote on the protocol we want to use that week.  



-      Come prepared to support your position.

-      Make sure you understand not only your team’s position, but also the opposing position and how to refute it.   

-       Listen respectfully and silently when your opponent is speaking.

-      Only speak during your turn or if your opponent gives you permission.

-      Take notes throughout the debate so that you can address the specific issues raised by your opponent.




-      Expect to wing it.  Doing so will hurt both you and your team

-      Do your research and time your arguments to make sure you have enough material AND that you don’t carry on for too long in your discussion of your arguments.

-      Forget to prepare a strong rebuttal.  Stating your own position is only half of the battle.  You need to be prepared to rebut the opposing teams’ arguments

-      Interrupt your opponent’s constructive speech

-      Forget to take notes.  Without written cues, it is difficult to make the most of your limited time in a debate forum. You will also need those notes for the post-debate assignment. Now review the AHPPA Steps .


1.                       Define the Problem

2.                       Gather the Evidence

3.                       Identify the Causes

4.                       Evaluate the Policy

(Optional Step)Do a Comparative Analysis of the Policy



Task 1, Day 1: Create a Google Slide Show using the AHPPA Steps.

Your Group will be responsible for creating a google slides presentation on Federal Minimum Wage Law. Each group member’s role is to create a slide/section on their chosen PPA step. If you have more than one 4 group members, the 5th member will be elected as the speaker to present to the class.


Task 2, Day 2: Brainstorming and Strategizing.  

Objective: Collaborate with team members to prepare an argument that is pro or anti Federal Minimum Wage Law. Depending on which side you’re assigned to.

a.   Before even conducting your research, brainstorm and jot down possible arguments your team or the opposing team might make in the upcoming debate.  Then, see if you can find research to support those ideas.


b.   With your team, determine the best way forward: should you each go on a fact-finding mission to find a wide variety of different arguments?  Should you work with a teammate or two and focus on a specific aspect of the topic?  Etc.



Task 3, Day 3: Research/Fact-Finding Mission:

a.   Read through articles, highlighting words or sentences to support your position and/or refute the opposing view.  You must keep track of your sources.  For now, you’ll simply copy and paste the link you used into your team’s organizer.


b.   In your team’s GoogleDoc, write down at least three to four strong arguments to support your position.  Make sure you can provide specific details from the articles to support your arguments.  You must keep track of your sources and document them in your GoogleDoc.


c.   Predict several points the opposition might make, and prepare arguments to refute those points.  You must keep track of your sources.


d.   You must keep track of your sources. Did I already say that?


Task 4, Day 4: Meet with your team

a.   Share your arguments and some points the opposition might make.


b.   Assign each group member or pair at least one argument to develop further.


c.   Assign each group member or pair at least one opposing point to counter or refute.


Task 5, Day 5: Meet with panel for feedback on your argument:

a.   Meet with panel to get feedback:

                     i.        Is your reason clearly stated?

                    ii.        Do details support reason?

                  iii.        Are supporting details well-developed?

                  iv.        Is language formal and concise?

                   v.        Have you used appropriate starters such “According to Smith…” and “In Ashe’s article…”?



Task 6, Day 6: Revise

a.    Final preparation: make suggested revisions to your argument.


b.   Time your constructive speeches and rebuttals.



Task 7, Day 7: Final Meeting

a.  Give Feedback to each group member about their delivery


Task 8, Day 8: Present your Arguments!






It’s Not JUST about Evidence…


While reliable data and evidence is obviously crucial to your ability to support your argument, it’s only half the battle.  The other half to consider is the ANALYSIS and REASONING.  In other words, how does that evidence help support your point? 


After you introduce evidence into your writing, you must say why and how this evidence supports your argument. What turns a fact or piece of information into evidence to support your argument is the connection that must be made clear


We should not assume that our listeners already know what we are talking about. The audience can’t read our minds: although they may be familiar with many of the ideas we are discussing, they don’t know what we are trying to do with those ideas unless we indicate it through reasoning.


Questions to Develop Reasoning

-      So what?  Why should anyone care about this evidence? 

-      Why is this information important to understanding why I made my claim?

-      How is this idea related to my claim?

-      What connections exist between them? 

-      Can I give a specific example to illustrate the application of this evidence?

-      What are the consequences of thinking this way or looking at a problem this way? (for evidence of a counterclaim)

-      What does this information imply? 

-      I’ve just described what something is like or how I see it, but why is it like that? 


Reasoning Matters (Example)


Does this evidence provide a reasoning that clearly connects it to the claim it is trying to support??


Claim: Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.

-         Evidence 1: Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air polluting activity.

-         Evidence 2: Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years.

-         Evidence 3: Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor.


Claim: Hybrid cars are an effective strategy to fight pollution.

-         Evidence 1: Driving a private car is a typical citizen's most air polluting activity.

-         Reasoning 1: Because cars are the largest source of pollution, as opposed to industry-produced air pollution, switching to hybrid cars should have a significant impact on fighting pollution.  According to Brandon Wright of the Environmental Weekly Reader, scientists estimate that doing so would reduce carbon emissions by %12309871234981723412341321432.2

-         Evidence 2: Each vehicle produced is going to stay on the road for roughly 12 to 15 years.

-         Reasoning 2: Cars generally have a long lifespan, meaning that a decision to switch to a hybrid car will make a long-term impact on pollution levels.

-         Evidence 3: Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor.

-         Reasoning 3: This combination of technologies means that less carbon pollution is produced.


-      Which of the arguments and reasoning presented above is strongest?  Why?



-      On a scale of 1-5, how well do you think the evidence supports each argument?  Explain your reasoning.



-      What could be done to further strengthen their argument?





Superior - 4

Proficient - 3

Poor - 2

Unsatisfactory - 1


Factual Information

Used many facts

to support all arguments.

Used some facts

to support all arguments.

Used few facts

to support arguments.

Did not present facts to support arguments.




Demonstrated thorough understanding of information.

Demonstrated accurate understanding of important information.

Demonstrated minimal understanding of information.

Demonstrated misunderstanding of the information








All arguments were logical and convincing

Most arguments were logical and convincing


Some arguments were logical and convincing

Few arguments were logical and convincing



Communicated clearly and confidently; maintained eye contact; excellent voice inflection and delivery rate.

Communicated clearly; frequent eye contact; good voice and delivery rate.

Seldom communicated clearly; poor eye contact; poor voice and delivery rate.

Failed to communicate clearly; no eye contact; monotone delivery.



Addressed all opponent arguments with counter-evidence.

Addressed most of opponent’s arguments with counter-evidence.

Addressed some of opponent’s arguments with counter-evidence.

Did not address opponent’s arguments.


Total Score









Now that you’ve completed the work, we will continue with our post-debate write up assignment.


NGLS Standards:

English Language Arts

9-10W6: Conduct research to answer questions, including self-generated questions, or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate. Synthesize multiple sources, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

9-10W7: Gather relevant information from multiple sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas; avoid plagiarism and follow a standard format for citation.

History/Social Studies:

RH8: Analyze the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well

RH1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting