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
Topics to Create Discourse in Your Classroom
we are working with the ideas of conversation and public discourse,
having students share their topics is an effective way to bring
those conversations into your classroom. Also, sharing topic/issue
ideas in class fosters a sense of writing community. Students
learn that writers exchange ideas in public spaces and they gain
insight from what others are exploring. They also learn that writers
can share sources in a collaborative environment as a means to
create new texts. This process draws students' attention to other
students and away from the instructor allowing for a more comfortable
atmosphere - and one that is more conducive to peer review and
topics and issues in class and/or outside of class via a discussion
minutes depending on activity)
decide on a way to conduct this activity so that it will be useful
to your students without dominating all your class time. For instance,
you might discuss a few issues each class day while having everyone
post to one or more discussion forums. You could form group discussion
forums for the discussion of similar or related topics/issues.
If your students are uncertain about their issue, a discussion
activity (either in the classroom or on the forum) can help them
learn more about their issues (it's okay if several students are
working with the same issue) and can encourage students to collaborate
more and to share their sources. Another idea: Allow each student
1-2 minutes to answer the following questions in a group discussion.
The "Round Robin" approach works well:
is your topic?
is your issue within that topic or your research question?
did you choose this issue (personal and social relevance)?
Topic Proposals (2 minutes)
need to evaluate these quickly--probably by the next class meeting--so
students know if they're on the right track before proceeding
with the other parts of the portfolio. Let them know that you'll
be looking to see that their issue is narrow, debatable, current
and relevant to their audience. You and classmates have already
provided some feedback on these ideas in the previous week’s classes
and perhaps a forum, so hopefully you won’t have too many problematic
issue ideas to deal with.
we have found that giving students a solid base for research and
evaluation of sources at the university before adding
the level of analysis this portfolio requires is an effective
strategy for making this unit successful. But just so students
don't lost sight of the goal in this portfolio, revisit the idea
of the conversation they will be researching.
It is essential to remind
them that they should research a variety of voices in the conversation
(not just one side and not just pro/con). They are becoming
accountable members of the conversation; they need to be knowledgeable
of all sides.
Assure them that we
will spend time on the analysis aspect of the portfolio next week.
Sources (create activities and allot time as you see fit)
source evaluation,using the criteria of scholarship, relevance, and representativeness
to help students critically examine and judge their sources—both
library sources and Internet sources. Engage students in a discussion
of possible criteria for judging sources and why the three selected
here make sense for the News and Issue Analysis for an educated
Audience of CO150 peers and teachers (You might also review
PHG on source evaluation here—see pages 584-589.)
Ways to establish the scholarship of a source:
Scholarly sources versus popular ones
Articles peer reviewed
Evidence of research or serious inquiry
Evidence of use of footnotes or bibliographies
Tone and level of formality/seriousness
to establish the relevance of a source:
Degree of relationship to the question posed by the Topic Proposal
Degree of currency (most sources publishes in the past 10 years
Evidence of knowledge of other positions, sources, awareness of
ongoing debate or conversation—that is, reference to other sources
perhaps through an extensive bibliography
References to current events
to establish the representativeness of a source:
To what degree does this source represent a particular, and important,
perspective in the debate? How would you describe or characterize
To what degree does this source overlap with others in your set?
Which ones? Where are they similar? Where different?
To what degree does this source offer something new, however small,
to the discussion as it represents and perhaps overlaps with other
sources representing this perspective?
is also effective to model this evaluation using a sample (you
might refer back to the library instruction) or an article from
Apply the evaluation
of sources to Portfolio 2
The goal for this activity
is to reinforce student selection of effective sources for their
issue analysis, which was initially addressed last week. Remind
students that they'll save time researching and writing if they
know how to determine which sources will be most useful to them
later on. Refer to pg. 588 - 589 in the PHG to guide this discussion and include the following points/criteria:
What kinds of sources are appropriate for Portfolio 2?
Informative sources (facts, dates, news reports, etc.) will
help you in the beginning stages to gain background knowledge
on your issue.
Opinionated sources, written by reputable individuals and
groups will be most useful in helping you meet your purpose
for writing the issue analysis. These will provide a range of
different positions and approaches to help you show that your
issue is complicated.
*You might note to students that "objective" reports
from news sources will not "take a position" on an
issue, but they can lead to more argumentative sources if followed
up with research on names mentioned in the report.
Currency: How current should sources be for Portfolio
This will depend on the issue you're researching but it’s
probably safe to say that some issues are newly emergent while
others have been with us for some time.
Discuss this question
using some of your students' issues as examples. Extremely current
issues will have less written about them, while old issues may
be so overdone as to require great effort to avoid complete predictability.
Many issues that have been around for a while will have "seminal"
publications or judgments (perhaps from the Supreme Court) associated
with them. Point out to class that good students of any issue
try to make sure that they’ve identified and included essential
documents among their sources.
Reliability/Credibility: Which sources are reliable for
Many of the sources you'll need for Portfolio 2 will contain
biases. One of the goals for this portfolio is to examine the
ways that beliefs and biases shape a writer's approach to writing
about an issue. Therefore, you'll want to collect opinion-based
texts so that you can analyze where these viewpoints come from
and how they affect the conversation surrounding your issue.
However, you'll also want to use credible sources. This is where
some evaluation of the scholarship of the sources can come into
play. Don't be misled to think that "Robby Republican's"
personal web site can accurately represent the views of all
Republicans. On the other hand, as long as you understand the
limitations of Robby’s web site you can use it to represent
a certain way of thinking or shared perspective (approach) to
*One technique for making
text evaluation concrete and engaging is to bring in a range of
sample texts (on a debatable issue that you choose). Students
would then practice evaluating texts for the purposes outlined
in the assignment. You might use editorials, political cartoons,
chat room scripts, personal web sites, government documents, scientific
texts, and research. Add 20 minutes to this activity if you decide
to practice evaluating sources in class. Try putting these sample
texts on an overhead in an effort to save paper.
Research Process (create activities and allot time as you see
Before we get into
the analysis of sources, it is necessary to provide students with
a strong foundation for the research process and creating an annotated
bibliography This is probably the first time students have
attempted this type of assignment, and they are most likely unused
to the expectations of university level research.
By teaching students
to research beyond "about.com" etc. and to evaluate
sources they find in more scholarly contexts, we are helping to
lead students finding accurate and appropriate sources.
Now we need to generate an activity or series of activities that
helps students keep track of the research they have done in an
organized and detailed manner.
You might demonstrate
or outline how the research process ideally goes or how it works
in "reality" for you or other people you know.
Drawing on Chapter 12 in the PHG is also effective (students should
parts of this chapter for homework this week anyway). Be
sure to let students know that research rarely goes perfectly
and that the nature of the beast is to yield changes and surprises
along the way. Help students deal with this as they research.
Since students need
to have time to research before we can move on to analysis, you
can allow a class this week to be a Research Day. We encourage
accompanying your students to the library so that you are available
for questions as they work.
(create activities and allot time as you see fit)
The purpose of the Annotated
Bibliography is tri-fold:
1.) to keep a
detailed and accurate track of their sources
2.) to reinforce
and augment analytical/evaluative skills
3.) to prepare
students for research elsewhere in the university
Since we are encouraging
close research and analysis, the annotations we are looking for
in the Annotated Bibliography aspect of this Portfolio are more
detailed than students might experience elsewhere in the academy.
Thus, it is important to spend an ample amount of time on teaching
the aspects of annotating so that students have the tools they
need to complete the assignment.
Furthermore, the annotation
should develop three aspects about the source:
1.) summarize the main
2.) provide a shorthand
of how effective/reliable/credible the source is and those points
that will be most helpful to the researcher
3.) connect the source
to the researcher's issue/research question
There is a rich opportunity
to connect Portfolios 1 and 2 via the annotations students need
to do for the Annotated Bibliography. Students should draw on
their summary skills first and foremost but also on their analytical/evaluative
response skills. Following the summary of the text's main idea(s)/key
points, students should evaluate the effectiveness, credibility,
strength of evidence, uniqueness of perspective, etc. the source
brings to the conversation surrounding the issue. Lastly, since
students often hesitate to eliminate sources that are only tangential
to their research question, the third part of the annotation should
illustrate how the source answers or furthers the student's research
question (how well could this source play an effective role in
the argument for Portfolio 3?).
You should design an
activity or series of activities that teach, demonstrate, and
apply annotation skills.
You might have students
practice summarizing an article from the NYT or another
source that deals with their issue as we did in Portfolio 1.
Then you might discuss what changes they need to make to that
summary since it is part of an annotation (possibly reduce the
length; it's okay not to use full parenthetical documentation,
etc.) and what can stay the same (it is still effective to use
paraphrases and direct quotations).
You could then model
using your own research or a topic you have been following in
the NYT how to "respond" to the text in a shorthand
manner. Some questions you might answer include:
How reliable is this
source? Do the biases damage the source's accuracy?
How recent is the source?
Will it still bear on my issue in Portfolio 3?
What stands out to me
about this source to make is useful?
What does this source
make me want to know more about?
Finally, have students
practice explaining how a source relates to, answers or furthers
their research question. You might demonstrate this as well
and then have students do a WTL that sets them up for success
in this aspect of the annotation.
Bibliography Tool (5-10 minutes to introduce)
Either this week or
early in the next, introduce students to the Working Bibliography
Tool in the Writing Studio. You should create and provide
instructions for how to use the tool. Also point out that
not only is this tool helpful for citations (for this and other
classes), but it is where students will do the work of organizing
their sources into approaches and explain that students will "turn
in" their culminating Annotated Bibliographies via this tool.
Be sure to let students know that this is a working tool
and it will not "fix" all of their citations perfectly;
they will need to proofread and do this themselves before turning
in their Annotated Bibliography.
the day’s activities (3 minutes)
to conclude each class session. When 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.