Open class today with
a WTL engaging students on three clippings from the NYT.
Have them write a summary (for about 5 minutes) of one of
the articles they’ve brought today as a news clipping. Discuss
one or two of their issues for about 5 minutes, perhaps focusing
on one student and his or her clippings. You might also create
a Discussion Forum for the occasional posting of article summaries
and issue clarifications. Have them turn in all the clippings
they brought to class today so that you can skim through the issue
ideas and give them verbal (whole class) feedback next time.
Put students in small
groups to discuss what they've read so far (you can do this for
about 3-5 minutes). Then reconvene as a class so that students
can share what topics were discussed (and so you can hold students
accountable for staying on task).
Transition to Next Activity
might say something like: Now that we've shared topics we
have read in the NYT let's review the different ways
we can respond so we can also share our Agree/Disagree Responses.
Spend a few minutes
reviewing the purposes for responding and the expectations that
accompany responding within an academic context (you can refer
back to the overhead you used previously).
If a student found an
editorial to share with the class or you can find one to bring
in, you can also discuss the similarities and differences between
an editorial response (where the claim or main point is found,
the amount of evidence used, tone, etc.) and the response students
will write for their first major essay.
Transition to Next Activity
how did we respond to Krugman's or Frank's articles?
Discuss students' Agree/Disagree
Responses to articles
Since we are dealing
with the Agree/Disagree response, create questions that enable
students to share whether or not they agree with the points raised
in any of the articles we have read so far.
Ask students to get
into small groups or partners (or use the ones you already created)
and share the responses they wrote to an article. Try to
group them with people from across the room, perhaps sorting them
by birth month, shoe size, or distance from home. (The goal of
this informal exchange is to both "hook" students and
to develop community.) In order to encourage them to think more
critically about issues, it is useful to start with their ideas.
Hearing from classmates they don’t yet know also extends the knowledge
base of students, who may assume that their own experience with
media and consumption--or other issues for that matter--is universal.
Students will experience the RISK of stepping out of their own
shoes and instead of having their opinions RATIFIED may find their
suppositions CHALLENGED by their peers. This is far more likely
to happen if they meet with classmates they don’t know. Mix things
up routinely and you’ll have a classroom that becomes a community
where students trust and depend upon one another for not only
support but for challenge to one another as well.
Transition to Next Activity
You might say something like: Now that we've discussed
the articles and our agree/disagree responses to them, let's take
a look at what makes a written response most effective.
students count off by three's. Place the following on the
board or an overhead:
to your number, draw the following:
a map of the United States
a map of Colorado
a map that takes us from our classroom to where you live
3 minutes is up, have students look at the different maps around
them (2 minutes)
ask the following questions (2-4 minutes)
the map of the United States , who can find my hometown of....(use
your hometown or a rather obscure location in the U.S. )?
Students won't be able to find it.
the map of Colorado , who can find...(again, use a rather obscure
location in CO--the Brass Ass Casino in Cripple Creek is usually
a good one)? Students won't be able to find this either.
look at the map that takes us from our classroom to where someone
lives; would we be able to get there? Most students will
a parallel between this activity and how claims function in writing
we lack a clear map in our writing, the text will be vague and
hard to follow like maps #1 and #2. The #3 map is more specific
and therefore more effective. Also in the #3 map, we had a clear
purpose (take us from the classroom to where you live).
Just like the #3 map, claims should reflect our purpose when we
write so that we can support them most effectively.
Transition to Next Activity
our responses, we must have a claim. We'll need to support
that claim with reasons and evidence. Most of us understand
what evidence is. But often, writers mistake evidence for reasons.
They think that if they simply tell readers why they make a claim,
it is enough to support that claim. However, most readers need
REASONS and EVIDENCE to feel convinced. In addition
to telling readers what you think, you need to show them WHY you
think it. Let's look at an example…
students how to develop a response with reasons and evidence
the types of evidence on page 163 in the PHG.
goal of this activity is to help students distinguish between
reasons and evidence. Another objective is to help them see how
reasons and evidence connect back to a writer's response. (Often
students interpret evidence as "any personal experience that
relates to my topic" which leads to stories and experiences
that stray from their original point). See if students can draw
connections between the evidence and the main idea from the sample
(to reinforce the need for focus in a response). Also, warn them
that phrases such as "this reminds me of" can lead to
ideas that don't qualify as support.
a nutshell, a reason tells why and
evidence shows how or why .
To illustrate this, you might do a brief role playing activity.
Have one student play the role of a parent and another play the
role of a teenager who just received h/er license.
Mom/Dad, can I use the Escalade to pick up my friends for the
the "actors" here and ask the rest of the class what
the teen is going to say next. They should respond with
"Why not?" Then have the actors pick up again.
give reasons like: you don't have
enough experience to take the car on your own yet; you're not
responsible enough; when your sister took the car for the first
time she scratched it; you shouldn't drive after dark yet, etc.
the actors again to discuss the scenario: The parent here
has provided the teen with reasons
why s/he can't take the car out. So, just like the scenario,
our reasons in our responses should answer the reader's initial
"Why" questions. But it's not enough to stop there.
the scenario by illustrating what would happen if the parent did
not have any evidence/proof as to why the teen wasn't experienced
enough or responsible enough or what the sister's scratching of
the car has to do with the teen h/erself, etc.
the previous activity to your students' own writing by showing
a written example (5 minutes)
might do the following:
this activity, use the sample below or create your own. Put the
example on an overhead and read over it with the students. Then,
highlight the differences between reasons and evidence and ask
students to draw connections between the evidence, the reasons,
the response, and the main idea. Pose questions like, "Is
the focus effective? Does the writer come back to their main point?
Where? Could the focus be improved?" You might use an overhead
pen to illustrate these responses. You may also want to spend
a few minutes discussing how reasons and evidence might look different
for other types of response (analytic or reflective).
key point from Frank's article: Frank states that "because
kids are not thought to be capable of acting in their own interest,
the state justifies protective policies, such as the restricting
[of] advertising aimed at them."
agree with Frank's solution of a "progressive consumption
tax" to an extent. I think taxing people who spend
excessive amounts on unnecessary items may help reduce the overspending
and this would benefit everyone. However, I don't think
a mere tax is enough--it won't change the effect of advertising
on on consumers and Frank needs to deal with this in order for
his solution to work.
Evidence to Support Reaction
believe Frank's solution isn't enough because it's hard to be
9 years old. When I was 9, I was insecure about just about
everything from my glasses and clothes to the cars my family drove
("Dad, please don't pick me
up in the Plymouth !" I'd say). But I was also obsessed
with Barbie. I watched Barbie cartoons and memorized all
the Barbie commercials. My friend, Emily, had the Barbie Dream
House, and she was one of the coolest girls in my class.
All I wanted was the Barbie Dream House because in Barbie's house,
everything was pink, sparkly and perfect, so if I had it, maybe
I would be, too.
Christmas morning when I was 9, I woke up before everyone else.
I just knew my parents had bought
me the Barbie Dream House; it was number one on my list and I
had been very good that year. I crept down the hall to the
living room with Barbie clutched in my right hand. My eyes
scanned the presents spread around the tree...there was no Barbie
Dream House. I rubbed my eyes and straightened my glasses.
I must be missing it , I thought.
I looked harder. Still no Barbie Dream House. There
was just this doll bed--it wasn't even the Barbie Dream Bed!
Just this doll bed with a pink canopy. I went back to bed
until my parents woke up.
may seem like a minor point in the grand scheme of life, but I'll
never forget how disappointed I was that Christmas (and now how
I can't escape feeling guilty for acting so selfishly toward my
parents). And I was only 9 years old.
The sad thing is that this phenomenon happens to all the
time to adults, too. While there are many commercials and
ads aimed at children, adults make up a huge part of the advertising
target audience. Why else would Super Bowl Comerical spots
sell for millions of dollars? They are bombarded with ads
that say they must have the two-story
house instead of the one-story, the Lexus instead of the Saturn;
they must eat at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse instead of Country Buffet.
Frank hasn't addressed the major social forces like advertising
that play a role in our consumption of things in America (although
he does mention the Tim-Robbins'-Range-Rover-effect) and a tax
won't change this. In short, I disagree that a tax would
fix our problem.
While this sample clearly shows what we mean by "showing"
and not just "telling" by using personal experience, it
contains some deliberate problems whose improvements you can discuss
with your students.
Transition to Next Activity
We've discussed some important aspects of responding that you
may not have included in the first draft of your Agree/Disagree
Response. One of the most important steps of writing is
revision, so let's talk about how you can incorporate the new
aspects of responding into your writing.
Review the concepts
of claim, reasons and evidence from the previous class session
What did we say was
important about claims when writing?
What reasons are most
effective when supporting a claim?
What makes evidence
Other points you might
wish to cover:
are the different types of evidence (think back to the PHG)?
might you need to use some evidence in your summary/response essay?
kind of evidence might you use in your summary?
the kind of evidence differ depending upon your response type
kinds of evidence might you use in your responses?
Discuss what makes
a written response effective (5 minutes)
Here, you can draw parallels
between the articles students read for homework and the responses
they wrote themselves. Be sure to cover each writer's writing
situation and foreground the choices the writer's made to meet
the expectations of that writing situation.
Points you might wish
the writer clearly made a point (agree/disagree)
the writer is responding to a main idea from the original article
the writer has given a sufficient reason to support h/er opinion
(tell us why)
the writer has provided some well-developed evidence (show us
the reasons and evidence are focused - they connect back to the
overall point the writer is trying to make
Look at a sample student
Agree/Disagree Response (5-8 minutes)
Use the sample student
Agree/Disagree Response provided in the appendix to discuss the
similar questions as you discussed for the previous articles.
Be sure to apply the student's writing situation to h/er writing
Have students read through
the sample for a few minutes. You might have them take notes
or do a WTL after they read it through once so that you have a
base for discussion.
Based on our previous
discussions (of claims, reasons, evidence, etc.) what makes the
student response effective?
What could be strengthened?
a Transition to the Next Activity
might want to indicate that writing is not a solitary act and
other writers' feedback can be very beneficial to our own texts.
on Agree/Disagree Responses (10 minutes total)
Introduce the concept and etiquette
of workshopping (3-5 minutes)
Since we are working
on building a writing community in the classroom, it is a good
idea to discuss how workshops work, what their purpose is, what
makes "good etiquette" and sometimes what not
to do in a workshop situation.
You might create some
samples of effective or ineffective workshop scenarios like the
following and discuss them:
Workshop Questions and Answers
Question: How effectively does the claim act as a map for
the reader? What might the writer do to make the claim more effective?
The claim is a good map. The writer should make the claim
Answer: The claim lets me know that the writer will talk
about how she agrees with Krugman's argument. In the claim, she
provides two reasons for why she agrees, but since the body doesn't
ever talk about the second reason, the claim would be strongest
if revised so it doesn't promise that.
Question: Does my paper flow?
: Not really.
Question/Concern: Please point out to me the places where
my organization is confusing. I tend to jump around sometimes.
I'm confused between paragraphs 2 and 3. What is the connection
between the two?
Have students workshop each other's
papers in partners or small groups (5-7 minutes)
Choose one to three
questions from your class discussions and create a mini-workshop
guideline on an overhead (try to avoid "yes/no" answers
as much as possible). Then have students add one question
to the workshop question.
In partners or small
groups, have students workshop each other's papers. Suggest
that students read through their partner's paper once without
making any comments and then answer the workshop questions.
Some questions you might
did the writer make a point (agree/disagree) in your response?
writer clearly responding to a main idea from the article?
writer given a sufficient reason (or reasons) to support h/er
opinion (telling us why)?
has the writer provided well-developed evidence (showing us why)?
are the reasons and evidence focused? That is, do they connect
to each other and back to the overall point the writer is trying
you might have a student recapitulate the main objectives you
discussed today or you might write your own conclusion.
Be sure to cover the main ideas in the articles discussed today
and to highlight what aspects they'll need to revise to make their
Agree/Disagree Responses most effective. Remind students
where they can access their homework.