Use this week to finish any work that students need to accomplish before turning in their academic argument. Determine which activities would be most helpful for your students to complete: discussing sample arguments, taking part in a peer workshop, or conferencing with you. Remember, students will need to turn their essays in BEFORE Thanksgiving Break. This will give you adequate time to evaluate their papers and provide some feedback for writing their final public argument.
Please remember to provide lesson and course connections each class day and to introduce and conclude your lessons along with providing transitions between activities.
Discuss Sample Arguments (you determine time)
To complete this activity, students should have read one or two student sample arguments for homework. Take some time to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each sample argument students have read. To make this discussion even more effective, have students evaluate each essay based on the criteria you will use to evaluate their arguments. You might conduct this as a group activity or a whole class discussion. If you discuss the essays as a whole class, it’s useful to have copies of them on an overhead. As students evaluate each part of an essay, you can write out their observations on the overhead draft. ** Note: Sometimes students will really tear into a piece of writing (i.e. “I thought the introduction really sucked.”) This type of feedback only adds to the anxiety that other students have when it comes to sharing their work. Therefore, you might encourage students to offer suggestions for how to improve the sample drafts, rather than simply pointing out what is wrong. Also, try to encourage them to focus on an essay’s strengths.
Conduct a Class Workshop (you determine time)
Decide how you want to conduct the workshop for students' academic audience arguments. You may conduct a full in-class workshop as we did for Portfolio 1. If you are running short on class time, you can create an out-of-class workshop to be done on a forum, via email, or even using the Chat Room feature in the Writing Studio.
See the Appendix for workshop questions and guidelines. Or, have students complete a backwards outline workshop (see below).
Backwards Outline Workshop: This type of workshop helps students think about the organization, focus and unity of their argument. Students can apply this to their own writing or to a partner's:
On a sheet of paper, write down your or the author's main claim or the controlling idea in the essay. Divide the rest of the paper into three columns. Then complete the following tasks, one by one.
In the left-hand column, write a brief summary of the content and purpose of each paragraph (e.g. Suzy Q example to support argument about body image). If there are two distinct ideas or purposes in the paragraph, write a brief phrase for each.
In the middle column, write a sentence that explains the connection between what this paragraph says/does and the overall claim at the top. If you don't know or it isn't clear, write a question mark.
In the third column, write a sentence that explains the connection between the paragraphs (i.e. paragraph one and paragraph two; paragraph two and paragraph three, and so on). If there is no clear connection, put a question mark in the third column.
What changes need to be made to improve the focus, development or organization of the argument? Does the body clearly develop what the claim promises? Does the claim need to be revised? Where there are question marks, how will you improve the transitions?
Have students read over the guidelines for the public audience argument. Highlight the concept of revision (you can connect this back to Portfolio 1) and the new expectations and limitations that accompany their new writing situation.
Explain that the analysis of a publication will serve as a foundation for the choices they will make when they revise their academic audience arguments for their public ones.
Complete a Postscript for Portfolio III – Part A (7 – 10 minutes)
Have students reflect on the writing they did for their academic argument. Generate questions that will encourage them to consider their thinking and writing process, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of their argument.
Introduce Portfolio III – Part B (10 minutes)
Writing an Argument for a Public Audience
Have students read over the guidelines for the public audience argument. Highlight the concept of revision and the new expectations and limitations that accompany their new writing situation.
Discuss New Audiences and Writing Contexts (20 minutes)
Discuss Audience and Context for Arguments. Use this activity to model approaches to choosing a publication and audience. Ask two or three students to put their claims up on the board (ask for volunteers - try pitching it as "free help" with their essay). Then, check to see if these claims are narrow and debatable (you may not have had time to look over the academic audience arguments yet). If they aren't, have students revise them to meet this criterion. If they are, use them as models for argumentation. Ask the class to brainstorm a list of possible audiences for each claim.
Use these points as a guide for this discussion:
Look at the claim and ask - who needs to hear this argument?
Who would be most interested in this argument?
Who would be the most realistic audience to target (those who would actually read it and be affected by it)?
Discuss how the argument would look differently based on each group of readers and their various needs and interests. Also, discuss where readers would likely encounter the argument.
Where might these different readers encounter this argument? Where would they be likely to read about it?
What is the best way to reach this audience (web or print form)?
After modeling the activity, have students write down potential audiences and contexts for their own arguments. The goal in this activity is to set students up for the work they will do in the final weeks of the course.
Broaden students' knowledge of possible publications they could choose by sharing a list like the one below.
Parents or Parenting Magazine
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Weekly Standard
Earth Island Journal
The Christian Science Monitor
New York Times Magazine
The Rocky Mountain Collegian
*Note that this list is by no means comprehensive.
Read and Discuss Sample Public Arguments (you determine time)
To encourage students to begin thinking about the differences between their academic and public arguments, have them examine one or two samples written by students (samples can be found in the appendix). Then, discuss how the writing choices in these arguments differ from those made for an academic argument. Compare:
Purposes and connections to an audience.
Use of language, tone, and voice.
Style of writing.
Use of evidence or examples.
Use of visual elements.
Since students have just submitted a substantial argument, we generally do not assign much homework over the break. One small assignment however, that you may wish to give over break (thinking ahead for your next class) is to have students obtain and bring to class print copies of at least 2 publications they may want to target as the context for their final argument. Tell students that if they do not wish to buy the magazine or journal, they should take it out on loan from Morgan Library.