have students reflect on writing a summary for Singer's essay
the writing situation model to Singer's essay
Discuss the importance of purpose,
audience and context for writing summaries
Discuss effective use of paraphrasing and
quoting. (See page 194 in PHG.)
Connection to Course Goals
Applying the writing situation model to
Singer's essay will help students think more critically and objectively about
his argument. By understanding a writer's purpose and context for writing,
students are more likely to represent the writer's key points rather
than their own interpretation of these points. Introducing types of response
aims to meet the goal of responding critically to a text for Essay 1.
(5 minutes): Type up instructions
on an overhead, asking students to reflect on the process of writing their
summaries for Singer's essay. What did they find most difficult or challenging?
What did they find easy or more accessible?
WTL responses in groups (5 - 7 minutes): Have students get into groups of three or four and ask them to discuss
their responses to the WTL. Then, open the discussion up for the entire class.
we're going to review the guidelines for summary in the PHG. Then, we'll use the writing situation model to expand these
guidelines. Hopefully, this will help you with some of the difficulties you may
have experienced when writing your academic summary for today. At the end of
class, we'll begin discussing the different ways you can respond to a text
after you've successfully summarized it."
the guidelines from the PHG page 160 (5-7 minutes):Review these with students and check for understanding along the way by
asking them to rephrase some of the points in their own words. Highlight
important concepts like "objectivity" and "accuracy".
Model Transition to Next
Activity:Now that you know the basic
guidelines for summary, let’s expand on those guidelines by considering the
writing situation. To do this, we'll turn one last time to Singer, applying the
writing situation model to his argument.
5.Apply the writing situation
model to Singer's essay (15-20 minutes):Promise students
that today will be the last day you discuss Singer (they're probably sick of
him by now). The goal for this activity is to help students learn to summarize
by considering an author's purpose, audience, readers, and context. The PHG suggests that an academic summary
should include the main points from a text, but students often have trouble
locating these. Sometimes their attempts at representing main ideas result in
incoherent summaries that read more like a "list of semi-related
ideas". We find that students represent arguments with much more accuracy
when they address the writer's purpose (the main points seem to emerge from
For this activity then, draw the writing
situation model on the board (the same one you introduced on Day 2). Be sure to
include texts, readers, writers, and context.
You don't need to worry about limitations,
requirements, or opportunities since it will be difficult here to speculate
around these things. Ask students the following questions and connect their
responses to the writing situation model. Note: possible responses and prompts
are listed in parenthesis following the questions.
describe Singer's text? (an essay, an argument, a magazine article …)
you think this text was written and where did it appear? (New York Times
Magazine - probably late 90's)
Singer writing this for? Who were his intended readers? (Consider the context
where it was found - most likely well-educated New Yorkers)
his purpose for writing this text? What was he trying to accomplish?
cultural characteristic is Singer's essay a response to? (The problem of world
hunger that exists beyond our immediate cultural context). To what extent is
world hunger a part of his readers' cultural environment or experience? How
might this affect the way they read and respond to Singer's essay?
assumptions might Singer have made about his readers’ needs or interests? What
did he think they needed? Why might he have chosen his audience?
right to assume these things? Why/why not?
whom his readers are and what he was trying to accomplish, how effective is
Singer's essay? Please explain.
6.Discuss the importance of
purpose, audience, readers, and context for writing summary/response essays (15
minutes):Look back at the list of responses on the
board and ask students why it might be important to think critically about the
writing situation for a particular text. Why might it be especially helpful to
do this before completing an academic summary of and response to an author's
Some possible responses:
important for us to understand the writer's situation in order to treat his/her
text accurately and fairly.
us maintain greater objectivity and represent the writer's key points
rather than our own interpretation of these points.
about purpose and audience helps us find the main ideas and key points in a
an author's context (his/her relationship to a topic and the cultural need to
write about it) helps ward off emotional reactions such as, "I bet Singer
doesn't give to overseas charities! Why should I?"
Then ask students if there is any information
listed on the board that they should include in their academic summaries:
and audience (where/when it was written and for whom)
for writing (why the writer has produced this text and what it is responding
** Be sure to emphasize purpose. Tell students that knowing a writer's purpose will help
them locate key points and evidence (you might even have them add "State
the writer's purpose" to the criteria in the PHG). Also, tell them that it is not enough to just list
key points and evidence when summarizing. They should explain how key points
and evidence function in the text (or how they help serve the writer's purpose
- See the example below).
of how to summarize key points and evidence:(You may want to
have this on an overhead)
1.Singer uses Unger's hypothetical scenario
about Bob as an example of his argument.
2.Singer uses Unger's hypothetical scenario
about Bob to present readers with their own moral dilemma. He states, "If
you still think it was very wrong of Bob not to throw the switch that would
have diverted the train and saved the child's life, then it is hard to see how
you could deny that it is very wrong not to send money to one of the
organizations listed above."
Ask students which example is more effective
and why. You might also use this opportunity to discuss using quotes
effectively to support ideas in an essay.
effective use of paraphrasing and quoting (10-15 minutes):Design an activity where you model effective and ineffective use of
paraphrasing and quoting. You might prepare examples beforehand OR have
students help generate ideas using Schrag's essay.
Cover the following points (Use page 194 in
the PHGas a guide):
a.Discuss where and how often students should
use paraphrasing and quoting in their summaries. (For example: It is
ineffective to string together several quotes, as this infringes on the
writer's voice; but it is also ineffective to paraphrase too often, as ideas
need to be supported with textual evidence).
b.Explain that quotes need to logically fit
into the sentence structure. For example:
oIneffective: Schrag argues, "…parents face the
possibility that their children will not graduate, pressure to lower the
bar…will almost certainly increase."
oEffective: Schrag argues that, "…as more parents
face the possibility that their children will not graduate, pressure to lower
the bar…will almost certainly increase."
c.Review any other points mentioned in the PHG or that you feel are important.
Conclusion:"Today we reviewed the guidelines for summary and
discussed how thinking about purpose, audience and context can help you write a
stronger summary/response essay. Next time, we'll continue discussing summary,
using a more complicated essay, and introduce the concept of response."
Read about responding in the PHG on pgs. 162 - 163. Read Peter Schrag's essay, "High Stakes
are for Tomatoes" (http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/08/schrag.htm).
Type a paragraph where you describe Schrag's writing situation (focus on his
purpose for writing, but also mention his audience and context). Then type out
a list of main ideas/key points from Schrag's article (be sure to accurately
describe whose ideas they are - not all of the key points are Schrag's own
ideas). Post your paragraph and list in a message to the SyllaBase Class
Discussion Forum. Bring a hard copy of your homework to class.