Today we go deeper into assumptions and implications (interpretive response),
helping students to attach and pin down reasons and evidence for their claims
about assumptions and implications. We then introduce the third response type:
analysis, which involves understanding the parts of a text and then making an
evaluation of a text based upon a limited set of criteria.
Connection to Course
Goals: Today’s class builds on previous exposure to response types and
takes students deeper into methods of developing a paper through reasons and
evidence directed toward a particular purpose. This class helps students
analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the contexts of the writers and their
texts, a skill that will be important for Portfolios 2 and 3 as well. With the
class discussion of a third response type, analysis, students learn the
important skill of text evaluation. Students leave with an assignment to read a
few Letters-to-the-Editor (and perhaps other NYT articles as well, as provided
in the NYT electronic reserve readings), so that they become familiar with these rhetorical situations
and also in order to see that pieces are often edited down to fit the
constrained space of the newspaper.
Sequence of Activities
1.Give feedback and hold students accountable for their
reading of the NYT and their clipping of news on issues of interest.
2.Discuss the assumptions and implications of Sacks’ and
3.Develop interpretive responses by attaching reasons and
evidence to assumptions and implications
·Last time we discussed assumptions and
implications as a way to develop our interpretive responses.
·Today, we continue with this idea, looking at
examples from the Sacks’ and Williams’ texts.
Students should use this discussion as a way to reflect on
homeworkresponses. They should: 1) try
to determine whether their responses adequately identify assumptions and
implications 2) try to determine whether their responses are fully developed
with reasons and evidence.
1.Trade news clippings(5
minutes) brought in today with a neighbor and skim one another’s. Do a
two-three minute interview with one another about the issue and why you find it
interesting. Ask a volunteer pair to brief one another’s article and issue to
the class, explaining why the classmate selected it and finds the issue
interesting. Have students turn in their clippings so that again you can review
their emerging ideas for topics, and provide some feedback at the next class.
on homework (3 minutes): Have students begin by refreshing their memories.
Ask them to (silently) review their responses to Sacks’ or Williams’ essay.
a Transition to Next Activity. Emphasize the immediate goals of the day, including:
recalling our responses to Sacks or Williams
discussing the various assumptions and implications in each
critically examining and interpreting the arguments
talking about the basics of the third response type
talking about how to build
better responses for Portfolio One.
3.Generate assumptions and implications from Sacks’
and Williams’ essays (15 minutes): The goal for this activity is to check
to see that students are able to pinpoint some of the assumptions and
implications in each argument. The interpretive response demands the most
critical thinking, so you may need to provide prompts to help students “dig
deeper.” During this activity, list students’ responses on the board and tell
them to use their homework as a guide.
are some of the assumptions and implications in each of the arguments. You may
add to this list or change these as you see fit. If students get stuck or offer
limited answers encourage them to think harder about the observations below.
Rather than repeating these, formulate questions to help students think more
·What do Sacks and Williams assume about their
·What do Sacks and Williams assume about
·What does each argument imply about the fate of
alternatives to the SAT?
Educators agree that the SAT is flawed
Sooner or later the SAT must be changed or gotten rid of
and a replace-
ment measure must be found
Readers will agree that the “diversity lobby” is prone to
devious methods, that the end of race-based admissions at U of C was good
Efforts to diversify campuses may be undermined or
All-white privileged students of alumni may prevail.
Most people see an inherent value in diversity populations
in school settings
Allegiance to a diverse population on campuses leads to a
number of remedies and a lot of challenges
In time, the end of affirmative action in college
admissions will lead to higher achievement among minorities
A belief in the free market as a “fix” for schooling must
be efforts to improve schooling in urban and poor settings
Interpretations of the correlation between race and SAT
scores will be similar
“Playing the race card” further fractures race relations
and fails to redress inequities in schooling
Readers will agree that the SAT is not biased and that his
single test question example shows this is so
A refusal to look more deeply at vocabulary q’s &
their relation to life experience may lead to heads in the sand
Public universities are for the public, not an elite
subset of the public
Public universities so conceived are obligated to teach
virtually everyone. Why not just go to open admissions? Will the quality of
an education suffer?
Audience will agree that applicants difficult backgrounds
are the product of dysfunctional families
Are we to believe that merit is doled out equally? What of
the young people who overcome enormous obstacles to achieve in school? No
Readers will be familiar with other experiments, such as
the U of Texas “Top 10%” law and will agree on the interpretation presented
The U of T program Top 10% program has led to serious
lowering of average SAT scores at U T and may be just another ill-devised
Readers will equate “comprehensive review” with
“race-based” admissions. Readers will also agree that racial preferencing is
condescending toward minorities
If all race-based policies are inappropriate then should
the gains associated with Civil Rights legislation go away too?
A critical eye on the value of testing is valuable but not
all would agree, given the history of the justification for the SAT
What better methods are there for determining student
readiness? Holistic eval is very expensive. Who will pay for it?
The leftist agenda has caused many of society’s ills--
family breakdown, illegitimacy, and low academic achievement
Conservatives blame liberals, and vice-versa. Who has
Write a transition that moves students from the observations
they’ve generated to the development of a better (more successful) response.
4.Practice developing an interpretive response to
each text by developing reasons and evidence to refute assumptions and
implications (10 minutes):The
goal of this activity is to help students develop their observations into
well-reasoned and well-supported responses. First, explain (or create a
mini-outline on an overhead) how a writer can develop an interpretive response
·an author’s assumptions/implications
·why as a responder the student is troubled by an
why the assumption/implication is problematic
prove that the assumption/implication is problematic
practice this process by consulting the list of assumptions and implications.
Ask students to consider whether or not they would support or refute the chosen
author’s assumptions and implications. Then, choose examples from the board to
practice developing reasons and evidence.
Here’s how it
might lookusing one of Williams’
·Implies that there is no place in admissions
decisions for acknowledging the obstacles students have overcome to get where
·Do students agree/disagree with this? (take one
side at a time)
·What reasons can students offer for why they
agree/disagree? (reasons must be substantial and something that can be
supported - “It’s stupid” won’t cut it)
·What evidence can students provide for why they
agree/disagree (i.e. personal experience - “I have a friend whose parents were
both disabled and she had to support them financially while tending to their
medical needs and going to school for herself. She worked 20 hours a day from
the time she was 12. Shouldn’t her remarkable maturity and accomplishment be
acknowledged even if her SAT scores were weak?”
Explain to students that without
evidence, their responses are reduced to a list of opinions or unsupported
rants. Also, warn students that they may need to search for textual evidence to
support “gut feelings” or reactions.
5.Reflect on discussion and make plans to revise
responses (5 minutes):Ask students to reflect on today’s lesson,
then to look back over their homework responses to Sacks or Williams and jot
down notes for revision. If they were to revise this essay for Portfolio One,
what changes would they need to make to strengthen and develop their response.
Point out that the more precise and focused they are with this REVISION PLAN,
the more helpful the plan will be as they revise—if they choose to revise this
Conclusion: Please write your own conclusion along the
lines of the following: Today we focused on developing the interpretive form of
response and distinguished reasons from evidence. Your ability to apply these
principles will directly impact your performance on Portfolio 1. Next time we
will begin to discuss the third type of response, the analytical response,
which can be used to judge the effectiveness of a text for its intended
purposes and audience. In preparation for that discussion, two new articles are
assigned for reading.
Assignment for Next Time
Read Lee Bollinger’s “Debate Over SAT Masks Perilous
Trends in College Admissions” from the Chronicle
of Higher Education and “Admissions Impossible” by Abigail and Stephan
Thernstrom. ½ class brings a hard copy list of bulleted key points and an
overall main idea stated as a thesis that you draw (or see indirectly
stated) from Bollinger’s essay. Other ½ class brings a hard copy list of
bulleted key points and an overall main idea stated as thesis that you
draw (or see indirectly stated) from the Thernstrom essay. One page of material
is sufficient. [Instructors: you must decide how to divide the class for
this homework. Sometimes the best thing to do is just number off 1-2, 1-2,
and have all the ones read the first document and all the twos read the
Review the PHG pages on the text evaluation
(analytic) response method, paying special attention to the sample on