This week begins your weekly outline
of goals/activities for Portfolio 2. Notice that
the activity times will NOT add up to a complete week of class
time; you will need to add your own activities to fulfill the
weekly goals in your class sessions.
always, remember to introduce and conclude your lessons with previews
and reviews. Use transitions to maintain a connection between
daily classroom activities, assignments, and portfolio and course
are an effective part of the writing process in that they encourage
reflection. Postscripts are also useful when evaluating student
writing because they provide students with the opportunity to
recognize and identify their own struggles; they can be very insightful
about what they've done most and least effectively. This recognition
frees you from labeling such struggles as "problems"
within your comments. Rather than directly stating that a student
needs to develop a claim, state that you agree with the student's
own observation that development is something that needs more
this approach creates a tone of, "I'm here to help you"
as opposed to, "I'm the expert" and allows you to incorporate
the student's own voice into your feedback (e.g. "As you
mention in your postscript, developing the evidence in your paper
would help strengthen it most."). Postscripts also
help students to develop their abilities at critically examining
their own writing. Such liberation from the necessity of obtaining
the expertise and supervision of teachers is a desirable, but
too often unstated, goal of the college composition course, which
may well be one of the last formal writing courses students ever
engage in. We want to encourage the enhanced ability of students
to "write without teachers" to use a phrase coined by Peter Elbow.
can use this activity to encourage students to reflect on their
writing for Portfolio 1—or develop your own postscript that reflects
your emphasis over the course of the first month of classes.
The postscript can be done on turn-in days or can be included
among the required pieces in the portfolio and done before class.
You may wish to establish a precedent for how you will handle
postscripts and then apply it consistently.
WTL - Postscript for
Portfolio 1 (10 minutes)
postscript questions include the following (for clarity and time's
sake, limit postscripts to about 4 questions):
of this writing process was most valuable to you and why?
parts of this portfolio were most challenging? How did you overcome
you learn about writing or about yourself as a writer while
completing Portfolio 1?
one piece of advice from the peer review that you used and one
that you did not? Why?
you feel the strongest part of your paper is?
had more time, on what would you continue to work?
is important to transition clearly between portfolios for students.
This way, they get a clear sense of where they've come from and
where they're going -
and they can see why. Think of a major transition
like this one the same way you think of transitioning between
activities in a class period: you want to provide an intellectual
turn indicator for your students.
Portfolio 2 (5-10 minutes)
all assignment sheets—Topic Proposal, Annotated Bibliography,
Issue Analysis and Synthesis—and let students read through them.
Fill in due dates, highlight key points, and address student concerns
along the way. Try to help them understand the sequencing of these
assignments, and emphasize that all parts lead up to the Issue
Analysis and Synthesis, which is intended for an educated audience
of college readers—the class and their instructor. You may need
to make a special case for the helpfulness of completing the Position
Analyses for Single Sources and the Composite Grid homework assignments,
since these are process elements of the Annotated Bibliography.
For more assistance with planning this activity, read the section
on "Planning to Introduce an Assignment" in the teaching
guide, Planning a Class, on Writing@CSU
the Topic Proposal (3-5 minutes)
Review the assignment
sheet with students and answer any questions they may have. Remind
them that their goal in this portfolio is to research a topic
that an academic and public audience needs to know more about.
However, the primary audience for Portfolio 2 is themselves and
the rest of the class. Tell them that they do not need a
bibliography page, but they should use author tags to credit ideas
in their proposal.
a transition that explains the shift students must make from readers
to writers as they move through the portfolios (3-5 minutes)
Portfolio 1- you began as critical readers exploring an issue
and examining different positions
Portfolio 2 - you choose your own issue; then you research this
issue, reading and analyzing the various approaches to writing
Portfolio 3 - you become participants, writing arguments based
on the research and critical thinking you've done in Portfolios
1 and 2
between Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2 (10 minutes)
the Writing Situation Model from Portfolio 1 to explain the transition
between Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2. You can draw the model
on the board or on an overhead and use it to explain that:
begin as readers who encounter texts (starting, perhaps with
the newspaper, and working outward from that) as a way to learn
and explore what is happening culturally and socially.
we become informed readers - drawn to certain specific issues
that we want to learn more about.
read and research various texts to locate the "conversation"
that surrounds one issue we're interested in (find out what
groups or individuals, who are active in writing about the issue,
we analyze these texts to figure out how they are shaped by
cultural and social influences. In turn, we consider how the
texts that get produced are shaping society and culture.
we've critically examined the existing viewpoints on an issue,
we become critical thinkers and informed writers. We then use
our observations and critical thinking skills to construct new
arguments—as we will do in Portfolio 3.
write our own arguments for public discourse (that is, for a
specific group of readers in society who are arguing about an
issue publicly) in the hope that our opinions and views will
influence that argument.
Through this process, we become active participants in society
a transition that moves the classroom discussion from topics/issues
to the contexts that form and explain participant views on those
topics and issues
out that students will be reading the Times with this
new focus in mind during Portfolio 2. Specifically, students should
continue to clip articles but now with the idea in mind of capturing
both dominant and conflicting values, beliefs, and attitudes in
U.S. culture. For instance, articles on educational issues
suggest that there is a dominant belief in the essential right
and obligation of all U.S. citizens to obtain at least a high
school diploma—a "right" long protected by law and taxation. At
the same time, "reform" movements are currently challenging the
efficacy of public education and the current trend seems to be
toward the privatization of education.
the hardest part of research is beginning. It is important
to create an activities that help students come up with topics/issues
about which they could research.
Topics (10-15 minutes depending on the activity)
also now review the reason for having students collect clippings
from the New York Times. Those collected clippings should reveal a variety
of categories of public discussion, as well as specific issues
for further research.
a discussion that asks students to come up with ideas they're
interested in and that have been covered in our society/the
world recently. You might ask the following questions:
What topics are currently debated in our society?
What topics have you covered in your classes that you want to
What has local news covered recently?
What topics have NPR or CNN covered?
might divide the newspaper and class into sections/groups to
discuss some of the areas of public discourse that emerge from
coverage of current events—a.k.a. the News. What do they
see in today's paper?
of categories (with innumerable subcategories) could also be
drawn from the news summary on page 2. Topical areas illustrated
by news coverage in the Times include, but are not limited to, education, science, technology,
geography, finance, the arts, international relations, foreign
policy, the environment, religion, government, the Armed Forces.
in a list of topics you have made (or use/add to the one in
the class' brainstormed list on the board or overhead.
Or you might have a student scribe write it on the board and
have another student take notes so that you can make an overhead
or list of topics to post to a discussion in the Writing Studio.
a discussion of contexts (10-15 minutes depending on the activity)
The goal of this discussion
is to explore factors which contribute to shared values, beliefs,
and attitudes—what one might be inclined to call, in a derogatory
way, "bias," but what might be thought of more constructively
(and less judgmental) as an "explicable point-of-view." For instance,
you might lead a discussion on a recent student effort to allow
pets in the dorms. What context factors would lead students to
hold various positions on this proposal? Other topics might
include the distribution of condoms in schools, keeping (or not
keeping) "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, or
creating less parking on campus, etc.
cultural values and beliefs
traditions and documents that support that tradition (the U.S.
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, for instance)
historical events (e.g. "Roe V. Wade)
universities, schools, churches, businesses, environmental groups
and other affiliations…
friends and neighbors
values and beliefs among smaller groups
events and traditions
concerns (e.g. planning for growth along the front range)
the purposes of a common vocabulary, focus and clarity, we distinguish
between a "topic" and an "issue" (see
PHG pages 570-573).
criteria for what makes a "good issue" (10 minutes)
writing situations (purpose, audience, and context) determine
what makes an issue "good" - begin this activity by
asking students to consider their audience and purpose for writing
their issue analysis. You may review the various audiences and
purposes (as listed below). But emphasize that while students
may have various audiences and purposes in mind, their
primary audience for the Issue Analysis is themselves and the
rest of the class. Their primary purpose should be to organize
the "chaos" of information they find on their issue.
and your peers
analyze your issue as preparation for writing an argument
in Portfolio 3.
prove that you can think critically about the writing situation
(drawing connections between readers, writers culture) and
show awareness of a specific audience
are some criteria to include for what makes an issue "good":
Your issue should appeal to an academic and public audience.
It should be complex enough to move beyond a simple pro/con debate.
It should be popular enough to find a range of opinions on (informative
sources such as news reports from the Times are useful
for learning about the issue, but convincing or persuasive sources,
those that take a position, are needed for the analysis portion
of the writing).
It should be fairly current or it should represent an ongoing
concern. This should follow from the fact that the issue is present
in a recent news article.
It should build off of existing arguments. For example, you wouldn't
want to research an issue that has already been explored over
and over (e.g. "Does the media negatively affect a woman's
self image?") This question lends itself to no surprise since
it has already been asked many times. Rather than "reinventing
the wheel" find out how an ongoing conversation has evolved.
See what direction it has most recently taken. Then, build on
that recent thread of conversation (e.g. "Much research has
already shown that fashion magazines have a negative effect on
a woman's self image, but little work has been done to see how
magazines affect men. With the production of men's magazines on
the rise, perhaps we should begin to consider these effects.")
Narrowing Topics into Issues (10-15 minutes)
first step in writing for Portfolio 2 is to have students choose
issues to work with. Emphasize that students will be sticking
with the issue they choose for the remainder of the course (about
8 weeks) so they'll want to pick something they're interested
in and can sink their teeth into. The goal for this activity is
to help students think about choosing topics and narrowing their
topics into specific issues. Inform students that topics are too
broad for the issue analysis and that they'll need to narrow
their topics to issues in order to focus their writing
for Portfolio 2. Use the grid below (or one that you develop)
to illustrate the differences between topics and issues. Also,
point out that issues are often defined in the form of a debatable
should we store it?
should we transport it across the country?
we continue to use nuclear energy when we don't have a reliable
solution for storing its waste?
is the cause of the recent school violence?
should teachers' role be in managing school violence?
the government fund more counseling programs in schools
to reduce violence?
Student Topics and Narrow them into Issues (10 minutes)
students generate a list of potential topics they want to work
with on the board, drawing upon the New
York Times clippings they have collected. Then practice
narrowing these topics down to specific issues. Again, students
should be able to find narrowed issues by looking more closely
at the news clippings they have collected. The goal of this
activity should be for students to formulate focused debate questions,
such as those shown in the table above. If you want to assign
this as a homework activity, consider using the brainstorming,
freewriting, or looping activities covered in the PHG (pages 131-32)
and in the CO150 Room in the Writing Studio on Writing@CSU. Also consider having students post
their ideas to a discussion forum, perhaps labeling it "Debatable
Issues Forum" or "Questions for a Debate Focus."
- Practice narrowing topics down to issues (5-10 minutes)
students list two or three topics that they might be interested
in researching. Then, have them narrow these topics into 3 - 4
specific related issues. Ask them to form these issues as research
questions. Since you've already modeled this activity as a class,
you probably won't need to thoroughly explain it. Verbal instructions
or instructions on an overhead should be sufficient.
a Peer Review Session for Issues (10 minutes)
students exchange their WTL's in groups of three. Ask them to
read each others’ topics, issues, and research questions and then
decide which ones would best meet the criteria for what makes
a "good" issue. This peer review session could be conducted
in groups over email or on a discussion forum. If the peer review
is done over email, have the students cc to you, the instructor.
essay "The Argument Culture" is important since Portfolio
2 aims to avoid us contributing to the "argument culture"
by becoming knowledgeable members of all
the sides in the conversation so that we can create a dialogue
instead of a cacophony of monologue-diatribes about publicly debated
issues. The goals for this discussion should be: to
help students understand what is meant by the "dialogue"
or "conversation" surrounding an issues, as opposed
to a debate; to discuss the importance of looking at all sides
when seeking "truth" on an issue in culture; and to
explain the connection between Tannen's essay and the Issue Analysis
Essay for Portfolio 3.
a discussion for Tannen's essay (10 minutes)
you might ask regarding Tannen's essay include:
is Tannen's main idea?
What factors does Tannen cite as contributors to our "argument
How effective is Tannen's evidence at supporting her claim?
Do you agree with Tannen's assessment of how we treat argumentation
in the U.S.?
How does Portfolio 2 tie into what Tannen is describing?
How might Portfolio 2 help us engage in a "dialogue"
rather than a "combative argument"?
For more assistance with planning this activity review the teaching
guides on Planning a Class and Leading Class Discussions on Writing@CSU.
the day’s activities (3 minutes)
you or a student does this, take special care to make clear their
connection to both Portfolio 2 and larger course goals. Take care
to provide some sort of conclusion to each class.