Day 6 . Monday, September 8th

Tuesday, September 7:  Activity Ideas

Discussing NYT News Clippings

Zukin's and Gordon's Articles

Introducing Interpretive/Reflective Response

Applying Interpretive/Reflective Strategies

Concluding and Assigning Homework

If you have more time...

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Introduce the Class Session and take roll (1-2 minutes)

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By referring to your agenda on the board or by previewing the day's goals/objectives, introduce the class session for your students.  Today, write your own introduction.

Discussing NYT News Clippings (10-15 minutes)

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Create an activity that allows students to share topics/articles they've been following and reading about in the NYT

You might make this sharing or writing about topics a standard way to start classes from here on out (but you don't always need to spend as much as 10-15 minutes sharing topics).  You can vary the activity as much or as little as you please; just keep in mind that repetitiveness or activities without reward can squash student motivation.

Today you might create groups based on a shared topic or article read, you might create an analysis activity of an article or editorial, you might have students practice a response to an editorial, or you might have students summarize an article to turn in as a WTL.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Discussing Zukin's and Gordon's Articles (10-12 minutes)

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Discuss Zukin's and Gordon's Articles

Design an activity that allows students to apply the WSM to Zukin's and Gordon's articles and flesh out the main idea and key points from each.


Divide students into groups based on who summarized each article.  Have each group create a group summary based on the individual summaries each student wrote.


Using the summaries students wrote for homework, generate a class summary on an overhead or on the board.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

You might focus on the purpose of writing a response and say something like: The next response we will be examining is the Interpretive/Reflective Response. This response draws on the same critical reading and thinking skills as the Agree/Disagree Response but has a different purpose. Your homework will be to write an Interpretive/Reflective Response to Zukin's article.

Introducing Interpretive Reflective Response (20-25 minutes total)

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Review the purpose of the Interpretive/Reflective Response from your previous overhead or create a new one (2 minutes)

The three ways we can respond are by:

Agreeing/Disagreeing with the main idea or key points in a text

Interpreting/Reflecting on the ideas, assumptions or implications in the text

Analyzing/Evaluating the text's effectiveness

  • The goal of an Agree/Disagree Response is to emphasize one important idea from a writer's text and support or refute that idea using reasons and evidence. Here, you want to convince a reader that your position is a favorable one.
  •  The goal of an Interpretive/Reflective Response is to look critically at an argument in order to explain what it fully means. Looking critically at a text requires you to inquire beyond what the text actually says. One way to do this is to locate the assumptions that inform a writer's argument and find out what the writer's argument implies. Along the way, you may find yourself agreeing with or refuting the writer's ideas and the assumptions and implications that are tied to these ideas.
  •  The goal of an Analytical/Evaluative response is to determine a text's effectiveness by examining its parts. You might look at the purpose, the intended audience, the thesis, the main ideas, the organization and evidence, and the language and style. Here, your aim is to point out an essay's strong points and/or where it falls short. Analyzing the text's effectiveness allows you to make more informed decisions about the usefulness and credibility of a writer's argument.
Solidify Key Terms of Interpretive/Reflective Response (3-5 minutes)

Key terms that you will need to solidify with your students for the Interpretive/Reflective Response are "assumptions" and "implications."  It's a good idea to let students know that the following definitions are how we will be using these terms in class but that they might be used differently in other contexts/writing situations.

Assumption- an assumption is what a person believes to be true. However, assumptions are not always true; they are not shared by everyone or supported by unquestionable evidence. Writers make different assumptions based on their background and experience. Subsequently, assumptions inform a writer's argument. If you look closely at a writer's use of language, tone, and evidence you can sense the assumptions a writer is making about their topic and their audience (their beliefs, their values, and their expectations).

Implication- an implication is a suggestion that is not directly stated. Writers may imply something when they are hesitant to write a bold statement or reluctant to make unsupported claims (for example, a writer may not state that the Vice President is too old to be in office or that Americans are careless and greedy, since this could be viewed as inappropriate or offensive to a reader. But the argument may suggest this none the less). This type of implication is usually driven by the writer's opinions, so it tends to be hidden "between the lines." In order to fully understand an argument, you'll want to locate the implications a writer's argument makes.

Implications can also be the logical ramifications of an argument that the writer may or may not be aware of. For example, one of the implications of making abortion illegal is that back alley abortions would increase and the fatality rate, due to botched abortions, would rise. One way to look for this kind of implication in an argument is to ask, "What does this argument suggest is happening or could happen in the future? Does the argument hint at an escalating problem? Does it suggest anything in the way of "effects" or what could result if a particular action is taken?

Have students practice using the terms assumptions and implications
(5-8 minutes)

Use the following questions or devise your own to get students thinking about what "assumptions" are:

 What assumptions might we make about:

  • someone who reads the Collegian?
  • someone who reads the Wall Street Journal?
  • someone who watches Dawson 's Creek?
  • someone who watches Star Trek?
  • someone who lives in San Francisco ?
  • someone who lives in Salt Lake City ?

Use this activity to reinforce the point that assumptions aren't always completely fair and shared by everyone but that they can beneficial to writing and reading texts. Also, remind them that assumptions are shaped by one's own experience and environment. Include the following questions to show students why it is important to examine a writer's assumptions:

  • When are readers likely to agree with a writer's assumptions?
  • When can assumptions be beneficial to a writer's text?
  • What risks does a write run if s/he makes an over generalized or inaccurate assumption?
Design your own activity where you get students to practice using the term "implications" (8-10 minutes)

You might use advertisements, look at political cartoons/arguments, or develop sample claims/arguments that contain various implications. Be creative!

At the end of the activity, make sure students understand the distinction between assumptions and implications. If they don't fully understand, inform them that assumptions already exist without the argument. Assumptions inform a writer's position. Implications result from the writer's argument. They might think of implications as the possible or probable consequences of the argument's acceptance and application.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Applying Interpretive/Reflective Strategies to Zukin's and Gordon's Articles (10-15 minutes total)

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Directly apply assumptions and implications to Zukin's and Gordon's articles

You might ask the following questions:

  • What assumptions do Zukin and Gordon make (about consumerism or about their readers' beliefs and values in general)?
  • Will all readers agree with these assumptions? Who won't?
  • What does Zukin imply about democracy and the "bargain culture" of Wal-Mart?
  • Does she seem to think this "democracy" is a good thing?
  • What does Gordon imply about the concept of "worth" today in America?
  • Does she think "worth" today is accurate?
  • How will looking at assumptions help us to fully interpret these essays?
  • How might looking at assumptions help us write an interpretive essay?

Concluding and Assigning Homework (2-3 minutes)

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Today 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 use to write their Interpretive/Reflective Responses.  Remind students where they can access their homework.

If you have more time...

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The Interpretive/Reflective Response is challenging for both students and instructors which is why so much of today is devoted to its explanation.  If, however, you find that you and your students get on the same page quickly, you might have students begin drafting their Interpretive/Reflective Response at the end of class.