Day 6 . Monday, September 8th

Tuesday, September 14:  Activity Ideas

Discussing NYT News Clippings

Wrapping Up Analytical/Evaluative Concepts


Unpacking Claims

Choosing a Response

Sample Academic Summary/Response Papers

Concluding and Assigning Homework

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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.

Discuss NYT News Clippings (5-7 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.  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 may want to add on a discussion of letters to the editor as a preview of what students will do when they revise their Academic Summary/Response papers.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Wrapping Up Analytical/Evaluative Concepts (15-20 minutes total)

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Answer any last questions about Brooks' or Krugman's articles or analyzing/evaluating a text (3-5 minutes)


Apply Analytical/Evaluative Strategies to Brooks and Krugman (7-10 minutes)

Once everyone is on the same page, walk students through an application of the skills we have learned to Brooks' and Krugman's articles.

You might cover the following:

  • Did Brooks and Krugman effectively accomplish the purpose in the text? What was each one's purpose, and why or why not were those goals achieved?
  • Will the argument meet the needs and interests of the intended readers? Who are they? What are their values? What are their beliefs? Would they oppose or support his argument? Why or Why not? Is the article truly argumentative (challenging the audience in some way) or is it simply "preaching to the choir"?
  • What can you say about the organization of the argument? Was it easy to follow? Did it progress in a logical order? Where did you falter as you read?
  • What about the reasons used to support the argument?
  • How does each author support the main points (evidence)? What is the quality of the sources referred to? Are they reliable? Does the author support all claims? What kind of evidence does the writer(s) use? Which claims are left unsupported?
  • What can you say about Brooks' and Krugman's tone and approach in the essay—that is, does it seem fair and reasonable, humorous or inappropriate to the subject? Does it contribute to the text's effectiveness?  Why? Pinpoint locations that cause the effect you describe.

Explain that analytical responses can serve to: praise a writer for the effectiveness of their text; point out the problems or shortcomings in a writer's argument; praise some parts of a writer's argument and challenge others. In short, however, the task of this response type is to evaluate and judge the text based upon a limited number of criteria that are then fully developed in support of the overall judgment.

Be prepared for students to be adept at indicating that a choice the writer made is effective but to need work on showing how or why that choice is effective or contributes to the text's effectiveness.  You may want to design an additional activity that supports this if you feel it necessary.

It would be a good idea to ask students to take a look at the PHG example of a text effectiveness response, on pages 164-65. This example is particularly good at showing the specificity with which the analytic response must be conducted.

Have a few students share their claims from homework (5 minutes)

You might have 3 or so students write their claims on the board.  Have the class constructively discuss the effectiveness of each claim.  Be sure that the purpose of the response is clear in the claim and that the criteria are indicated clearly as well. 

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Freewriting for Development of Analytical/Evaluative Response  (5-7 minutes total)

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Provide students with time to develop their Analytical/Evaluative Responses

Using their homework, instruct students to freewrite for about 5 minutes (then give them longer if they're on a roll).


Have students do a freewrite/looping activity where they write for 3 solid minutes, stop, pick up an idea from the first chunk of writing and write on it for another 3 minutes, stop, then pick up on an idea from the second chunk of writing and write on it for another 3 minutes.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Unpacking Claims for Focus and Development (15 minutes total)

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The goal for this activity is to help students make an overall point with their writing by considering how claims can "map out" a response. (In the past, students have written analytic responses that read like "generalized lists" - i.e. the author's tone is good…the organization is effective… the evidence could use some work…). Here, we are trying to help students move beyond generalized responses to think more about their purpose/focus and organization.

Practice unpacking the following claims:

-Turkey sandwiches are healthier than peanut butter sandwiches because they are lower in fat.

-Huckleberry Finn is a classic American novel and should be read by every student at the high school level.

-Viewers watched Star Trek during the 1970s because it alleviated their fears about the ability of races and genders to get along.

Then use the claims below (or ones that you generate) to model how a claim can help the writer connect their points and create an outline by which to organize their writing. Put these claims on an overhead and ask students to outline what the paper might look like based on what the claim says. Take the claim apart, phrase by phrase; you might refer to this activity as "unpacking a claim."

Ineffective claim:  Krugman's essay is pretty good, but I didn't like the tone he used and he seems biased against other countries. Overall, I found his attitude to be sarcastic or even a little cynical. I did like that he talked directly to the audience, though.

Discuss why this is ineffective.

Have them unpack each section of the claim to reach these conclusions:

  • "Krugman's essay is pretty good, but I didn't like…"  The language is too generalized - what does the writer mean by "good" and "I didn't like" and "attitude"?
  • What does a bias against other countries have to do with the effectiveness of the text?  This may be difficult to explain.
  • "I found his attitude"… The writer can comment on tone but it is very difficult to impute attitude where we have no real knowledge of the writer's internal life.  Changing the word choice here may help.
  • Just because we "like" something doesn't make it effective.  Rephrasing to something more concrete that the writer could support would be more effective here.
  • Overall: The writer has named too many criteria to develop any sufficiently. Proving all of these items is too diffuse (not focused) for a four-page essay that provides sufficient evidence for all of its claims and subclaims.

More Effective claims :

Krugman appeals to readers of the New York Times by using language that they can relate to and by taking a position they'll be inclined to agree with, but his argument loses focus at the end as he never truly argues for why a tax on consumption would be ineffective."

Brooks cleverly grabs our attention through a lively style and by creating a discussion that seems to be, on the surface, about silly magazines.  This "false superficiality" enables him to avoid alienating his audience when he delivers his cutting punchline about one of the flaws in democracy.

Why these are effective:

  • Writers use specific language and make demonstrable claims about the texts
  • Writers combine their observations to make an overall point that indicates whether or not the essay was/was not effective (avoids sounding like a list)
  • Writers' foci can reasonably be handled in four-page papers.

Ask students how each response might look based on these claims. How would the reader develop these points? What examples from the text could he/she use to develop each point? You might draw up an outline for each. Finally, you might ask what would make each claim better.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Choosing a Response (5-7 minutes)

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Create a WTL overhead for individual or group work

Have students look back over all the work they've done this far and answer questions like: 

Which type of response seems most accessible to you?

Which did you feel you accomplished most effectively?

Which do you feel you could revise to make the most effective for Portfolio 1? (keep the length and other expectations in mind here)

Which do you feel displays your grasp of the concepts we have learned thus far?

Remind students that they need to decide on their Summary/Response so they can do the homework for tonight.  Also remind them that they can combine ways of responding but that they must be extra careful about clarity if they do.

Create a Transition to the Next Activity

Discuss and Workshop Sample Academic Summary/Response Papers (15-20 minutes)

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Sample Academic Summary/Response Papers

Provide students with a few moments to read back over the sample essays.  You might have students complete a WTL before you begin discussing the samples as a class.

Design an activity/discussion outline that facilitates the class workshopping or talking about the sample essays.

Your goal here is to foreground the concepts we have been working with thus far.  We also want to emphasize the choices the writers made in the samples.  To what extent are these choices successful?  What could be improved?

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 complete their Analytical/Evaluative Responses.  Remind students where they can access their homework.

You can post the following questions as the description of the workshop forum or create your own:

Mini-Workshop:   Analytical/Evaluative Response

Place students in groups of 2 or 3. Instead of exchanging papers right away, have students read their papers out loud to each other* and then answer the questions on the overhead after each one. You can use these questions or create your own based on your students' needs.

*Sometimes it is effective put the writer in the role of "active listener," so you might suggest this to the groups.

After your response is read out loud, answer the following questions as a group:

How clear is the claim? Does the claim clearly reflect our purpose (to analyze/evaluate?)

What criteria does the writer use to evaluate the text's effectiveness?

What reason(s) is the writer using to support the claim?

How sufficient is the the evidence the writer is using to develop the reason(s) and claim? Where the does the writer need more evidence?