To examine a sample Inquiry Essay. To encourage students to think critically about the context of their sources.
Connection to Course Goals
Looking at a sample Inquiry Essay at this point in the unit will help students understand where their research is heading. Just as we ask students to become conscious of the rhetorical choices they are making in their own writing, it’s important that they also realize how significantly rhetorical context factors into the sources that they’re finding for their P2A Annotated Bibliography.
Introduce Today's Class (3 minutes)
Make sure to take a few minutes at the beginning of each class to get students focused and preview the activities for the day.
Examine Sample Inquiry Essay (15 minutes)
Usually, we don't examine sample essays immediately after introducing an assignment; but because this essay is so atypical, it helps to provide a sample so students understand what they're working toward. Use one of the samples provided in the summer section Writing Studio page (make sure to remove the writer's name). After students read the sample, discuss how this essay differs from those they've previously written for this class. Be sure to emphasize the importance of process - the Inquiry Essay traces the process of research and thinking, thus they need to carefully document how their ideas take shape as they complete their research. How has the writer of the sample essay traced their own inquiry process? What was their research question? How did their sources shape their thinking? What claim did they finally arrive at?
Transition: Develop a transition here.
Publication Context Activity (30 min)
Begin this activity by looking at a couple of sample publications with the whole class. You can do this using online publications (you'll need one of the English Dept.'s laptop and projector sets - see Marnie to reserve one) or by bringing in copies of free publications like the Collegian and Fort Collins Weekly. Give the students a few minutes to look through the sample publications (or have them ask you to navigate through parts of an online publication), and then have them answer the following questions, either in a discussion or a WTL:
Who is this publication targeting?
Who is the audience? Look at the ads - who are the ads targeting?
Look at the range of issues - what can we tell about the audience for this publication given the issues that are being discussed?
Look at the style of writing. Is it formal? Informal? Does it read more like academic prose or everyday prose?
What is the mission statement of the publication? (Look for this in the editorial pages - it's often in very small print.)
Can we detect any political bias?
Next, tell students that they'll be analyzing the rhetorical context of additional publications in small groups. Divide the class into groups of four, and give each group a couple publications to analyze. Note: Jen has quite a few publications in her office available for use in activities like this. You are welcome to stop by and borrow some, but please make sure to bring them back. Another way to make sure that you have a wide range of publications available for this activity is to ask students, as part of their homework, to purchase a publication that they wouldn't ordinarily read, use it to find an article for their Annotated Bibliography, and then bring it to class.
Put the following questions on an overhead and ask the groups to answer them as completely as possible and to be prepared to present their findings to the class (you might have them make notes on an overhead or in a grid on the board):
What do you notice about the issues addressed in this publication? Are they mostly political? Mostly environmental? Mostly social? Mostly economic? Mostly something else?
Look at the ads in the publication. What kinds of products are being advertised? Are those products necessities or luxuries? Are they expensive or moderately priced? Who would be interested in purchasing the products advertised in this publication?
Look at the style of writing. Is it formal? Informal? Creative? Sarcastic? Does it read more like academic prose or everyday prose?
What can you find out about the writers featured in the publication? Are they staff writers? Outside experts in their fields? Unidentified average joes/janes?
Does the publication include jokes? Cartoons? Short stories? Poetry? Reviews of movies, plays, music, etc.? Puzzles? What does the inclusion(s) of any of these types of texts tell you about the audience for the publication?
Look for the mission or editorial statement of the publication (this may be in the form of an editor's note, or it may actually be a mission statement printed somewhere in the first few pages). What is the mission statement of the publication? Can you detect any political or other sort of bias in the mission statement? Are there any other indications of any kind of publication bias in the articles?
Given all of the information you've gathered, what do you think the overall PURPOSE of this publication is? Who do you think is its target audience?
Finally, have students present their findings and spend a few minutes discussing the similarities and differences between the publications, noting especially any instances where the context of the publication influences the types of writing found in it.
Continue collecting articles for your annotated bibliography and developing your responses to the
articles you’ve already found.
Bring your Annotated Bibliography to class (a good goal would be to have 4-5 articles and
annotations by Wednesday).